The county's unemployment rate jumped nearly half a percentage point in July, as the latest round of government and education cuts took their toll on the area work force.
Stanislaus County's jobless rate rose to 17.6 percent for July, up from a revised 17.2 percent for June, according to numbers released Friday by the Employment Development Department. One of the biggest reasons for the rise was the 1,000 jobs lost from June to July in federal, state and local government, including education.
"It's the teachers," said EDD labor market analyst Sheila Urdesich. "There is some normal loss in July, but now we have all the local governments struggling with budgets. So this is more than normal."
In the past five years the public sector has taken a hit each June to July, when the fiscal year ends and many government layoffs occur. But those were smaller, ranging from 100 to at most 500 jobs. Of the 1,000 government jobs lost last month, 600 were in state or local education -- including teachers, staff and administrators.
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Still not all of the initial losses will be permanent. Government work typically slows down in the summer and many pink-slipped teachers are eventually rehired once the fall semester begins.
Modesto Teachers Association Executive Director Megan Gowans said about 40 Modesto City Schools teachers, mostly elementary teachers, are still waiting to be rehired now that the school year has started. She expects the district to take back perhaps 10 more, but the remaining teachers will need to opt for substitute work or seek other employment.
"This is the only time we've remained with laid-off teachers when the school year started since I started in MCS and the MTA, and this is my 33rd year with the district," she said.
For the teachers that have not been rehired yet, Gowans said the group is helping however it can, even writing letters to their mortgage companies in hopes of helping them receive refinancing or payment assistance. She said because the state's budget problems are so widespread, the options for laid-off teachers have shrunk.
"I think right now the reality is that there just aren't a lot of professional-level jobs they could find through hard work on their own," she said. "There are people who have found work in different districts, but it probably will be a very difficult year if they are still laid off. If they want to stay in the area as a teacher, they'll have to accept substitute rates at least for the coming year."
State-funded education jobs were down 23.1 percent from month-to-month. But Jeff Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, said the final government employment picture won't be clear until October, when rehirings have finished.
"July is a hard month to decipher," he said. "Between an unusual agricultural calendar, the census laying people off and education cuts, it's harder to sift though it and have to take the long view on these reports."
He said the one thing that is clear is that the state has not seen any substantial growth in the private sector yet, which means the road to recovery is still long -- and uphill.
"We haven't started growing yet," he said. "The things going on with the state and local governments are fairly predictable, but the private sector isn't pulling up the slack to the extent we thought it would be a few months ago. It needs to pick up substantially."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2284.