Some disturbing news about unemployment: The Madera-Chowchilla metropolitan area has the 10th-highest jobless rate in the nation. Here are the nine cities worse than we are:
No. 9, Stockton, 14.5 percent; No. 8, Visalia-Porterville, 14.7 percent; No. 7, Hanford-Corcoran, 14.8 percent; No. 6, Fresno, 14.9 percent; No. 5, Modesto, 15.6 percent; No. 4, Merced, 17.3 percent; No. 3, Yuba City, 17.9 percent; No. 2, El Centro, 26.8 percent; and No. 1, Yuma, Ariz., 28.9 percent.
Now, let’s take a look at the 10 metropolitan areas with the lowest unemployment: No. 10, Portsmouth, N.H., 4.1 percent; No. 9, Ames, Iowa, 3.9 percent; No. 8, Midland, Texas, 3.8 percent; No. 7, Sioux Falls, S.D., 3.8 percent; No. 6, Grand Forks, N.D., 3.7 percent; No. 5, Iowa City, Iowa, 3.6 percent; No. 4, Burlington, Vt., 3.5 percent; No. 3, Lincoln, Neb., 3-4 percent; No. 2, Fargo, N.D., 3.0 percent; No. 1, Bismarck, N.D., 2.5 percent.
What do the high-unemployment cities have in common? They all are in central or southern California agricultural areas, or they border them, as in Yuma’s case.
What about those with low unemployment rates? Most of them are in the Midwest, and are homes to medical centers, colleges and high-tech businesses. Portsmouth and Burlington, the only two low-unemployment cities not in the Midwest, are both smaller than Madera.
Cities with low unemployment have citizens with relatively high educational achievement.
Cities with high unemployment have relatively low educational achievement.
Cities with low unemployment have diversified economies.
Cities with high unemployment are less diversified and heavily dependent on agriculture for employment.
In its Madera 2025 Vision plan, the City Council set forth steps to move Madera toward more employment. These statistics tell us how really necessary keeping to that plan is.