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Plumas follows state, national trends for unemployment rates

As always, there’s good news and bad when it comes to unemployment in Plumas County.

The unfavorable news is that unemployment was at 7.8 percent in December 2019. The good news is that’s down from 8.5 percent the previous December, said Valerie Bourque, business service representative for the Alliance For Workforce Development (AFWD) at Plumas County One Stop.

Bourque was updating members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on jobs as well as programs within the AFWD at the Tuesday, Feb. 4 meeting.

“We are Plumas County’s America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) provider,” Bourque told supervisors. “Our mission is to provide businesses and workers a common access point for employment, training and other workforce services.”

Comparing unemployment rates, Bourque said that the national rate is 3.5 percent for December 2019. “The lowest month since May 1969,” she said.

California’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent for the same period.

Looking at the Plumas figures, Bourque explained, “These numbers represent the unique challenges faced in rural counties affected by severe weather conditions and seasonal employment opportunities.”

AFWD’s mission is to match skills training and education programs with jobseeker needs. The program also keeps abreast of employer needs and tries to match applicants.

Between July 1 to Dec.  31, 2019, AFWD’s One Stop center served the needs of 1,711 individuals. “We supported 64 unique business with 423 individual services including managed recruitment, job postings, labor market information, HR (human resources) support, rapid response layoff assistance and interview/meeting space,” Bourque said.

“These numbers indicate that multiple contact points and services are being offered to our employer partners,” she added.

Three businesses between  the program year 2019-20 used On the Job Training programs, referring to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Bourque said.

A total of $26,967 was reimbursed to these employers who signed on for the program. “That’s a pretty significant amount,” she told supervisors.

“Our business service staff continues to develop new business partnerships to facilitate new employment and on the job training opportunities for Plumas County jobseekers,” she said.

The three businesses that were involved with the WIOA on the job-training program included Plumas District Hospital, Plumas County Sheriff’s Office and Flannigan Leavitt Insurance.

As an example, Bourque said that AFWD assisted the owners of the new Grocery Outlet in East Quincy. The local program was there to assist with employee recruitment, candidate screening and promotion activities last fall to get the store open and operational. “This business opening and AFWD’s partnership with Grocery Outlet resulted in the hire of 35 individuals from September to November 2019,” Bourque said.

And there are many other programs available at AFWD.

At one point in her presentation, Bourque recognized Supervisor Sherrie Thrall’s commitment to AFWD.

Thrall later pointed out that AFWD services that Bourque spoke about are represented in six of the 11 counties within the Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium known as NoRTECT. The six county partners include Butte, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Sierra and Plumas.

“It always amazes me about the wonderful job AFWD does,” Thrall said.

“That’s good news on the unemployment rate,” said Supervisor Lori Simpson.

She said that she’s always hearing that people can’t find jobs here, but in listening to Bourque, there are jobs available.

Bourque said that almost every day they get calls about new jobs that have come available. “Those who want to work can work,” she said. “Even if they don’t have a lot of experience we can do a skills-based resume.”

Bourque said they represent all types of job and career levels. Because of this, they work with all levels of needs in matching employment opportunities.

“One woman went into housekeeping at PDH (Plumas District Hospital) and she’s now the supervisor,” Bourque said with pride.

Simpson asked Bourque if there are any trends involving job longevity?

Bourque explained that Plumas County’s employee is different from what is realized in the Bay Area. There, if someone is in the same job for 15 months “people wonder why.”

“Employers here are raising their starting wage,” because they want people to move up and stay.

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