Job centers staying busy, seeing success

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 5, 2013 

— Those looking for jobs in Merced County are continuing to utilize the county's employment centers, which are meeting an increasing demand and exceeding employment goals.

That was the outcome in the 2011-12 end of year report, presented by the Merced County Workforce Investment Board during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

Led by Human Resources Director Robert Morris, the report detailed the number of visits to the county's Worknet Employment Resource Centers, which offer workshops and career development information.

Morris said there were 163 visitors per day at the Merced and Los Banos employment centers, which is an increase from the prior year. The total visits were 42,758, with 4,355 first-time visits and 38,403 return visits.

About 676 people using the services were given a survey, and 90 percent said they would recommend the employment centers to others.

Morris said the increase in visitors is because the department has been marketing services using public service announcements, mobile services buses and billboards. Morris said the department also is working with neighboring counties such as Stanislaus and Tulare on veterans' programs.

Merced County's unemployment rate was 17.2 percent in December, according to the most recent state data. Out of a 110,000-person work force in Merced, 18,900 are unemployed.

Morris also noted the department exceeded goals set by the state.

The goal for adults in the program was 72 percent employment, and the department achieved 82.1 percent. The goal for retention of those jobs was 78.5 percent, and the department achieved 91.8 percent.

The goals for displaced workers -- those laid off or jobless veterans -- also were exceeded. The goal to find employment was 74 percent, and the department hit 83 percent. The retention goal was 81 percent, and the department achieved 85.6 percent.

During the year, the board provided 28 on-the-job training programs at local businesses and worked with 500 displaced workers from 12 businesses.

Funding for the employment centers comes from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is funneled to the state and then to local agencies, Morris said.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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