Despite the low wages in the area, jobs continue to leave Stanislaus County. With the real unemployment rate over twenty percent, not many prospects are on the horizon for future job growth.
Memorial Medical Center recently announced a reduction of about 114 jobs from skilled nursing to administrative positions. The cuts are attributed to a reduction in patient admissions, possibly due to the opening of Kaiser Hospital. Some of the administrative jobs are being moved to Sacramento, reportedly to consolidate the work load and make the hospital system more efficient. One might ask, why aren’t the jobs moving here to make the hospital system more efficient?
Emanuel Medical Center is undergoing an employment downsizing. Kaiser has not announced whether it plans to make adjustments.
Other Recent Job Losses
A call last year to the Modesto Bee customer service line resulted in contact with a call center in the Philippines. The call was to report a missing newspaper. Calls previously were handled in Modesto. The Bee had already downsized a few years ago, moving printing jobs to Sacramento. Staff with other job duties was also reduced.
As businesses centralize their phone answering systems, fewer jobs remain locally. A call to most banks results in contact with an out of state call center. When one tries to call the local branch listed in the phone directory, calls are usually routed to a call center. In the long run, this trend deemphasizes the value of local bank branches and makes them vulnerable to closure.
Even Burger Flippers’ Jobs Aren’t Safe
Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that a Bay Area company has invented a machine that assembles hamburgers. The goal is to replace burger flippers at fast food joints with machines that are faster and more precise. Burgers will be sold cheaper and profit margins will likely increase.
Given Modesto’s many fast food outlets, the invention may have a large negative impact on local employment. While the invention will revolutionize fast food service, quite a few unskilled workers will lose jobs. Given Modesto’s 25 percent high school dropout rate, opportunities for unskilled laborers will become even fewer.
Someone in the Community Needs to Find an Answer
The future economic patterns are clear and easy to understand. Stanislaus County leaders need to figure out how to make Modesto an employment center. If no action is taken, Modesto will continue to lose jobs to other communities. Citizens will relocate to places with jobs. The area’s population may decline and may stay in a permanent state of depression.
Some Ideas to Change the Trend
To begin, some simple steps can be taken. Educators should emphasize the importance of education so that parents and their children understand the value of obtaining job skills. The schools need to develop vocational training programs that teach skills to match jobs in the future economy. Vocational training should begin before high school.
Citizens and government need to improve the eye appeal of the community so that employers can be attracted and local businesses can be more successful. The derelicts inhabiting the town need to be encouraged to clean up their act. The police need enough manpower to enforce the laws.
Land use planning should develop core areas for employment. The existing business parks need adequate transportation infrastructure to accommodate the needs of employers. Business leaders and the Chamber of Commerce need to make a direct pitch to employers to relocate here by matching job skills of the citizens with the needs of potential employers.
Modesto Centre Plaza needs to be an active convention center so that business leaders from other areas will have a reason to come here and look the community over. Many other possibilities for spurring economic development exist. If it isn’t already, it is time for the community to get serious about its future.
Fred Herman says
Sooooo … besides getting mad as hell and not taking it any more, besides not patronizing that hospital or buying machine-flipped hamburgers, what do we do now?
Frank Ploof says
Fred, what do you recommend?
We have to be competitive, plain and simple. How do we do that, just check out how other communities get new and/or retain existing business for a starter. When doing so you’ll find that they usually can offer some incentives such as skilled labor, tax breaks, resources such as cheap water and power, fertile soil, etc.
What do we have to offer to be competitive? Do the leaders have the political will to embrace businesses that compete with ag? Or can complimentary businesses be built to enhance ag?
Bottom-line is that we are ag and will be ag as long as farm land preservation prevails.
Maybe Modesto has to just be the best dam ag city in the world!! Can we collectively figure out how to do that? Absolutely!
Eric Caine says
I might add that one reason we should fight to keep water here is that we will be one of the few regions that can offer water to businesses that need it. It will be a major attraction and the foundation for jobs.
F Ploof says
Is anyone marketing Modesto as a water abundant city for business?
Since its mid water don’t we need them onboard?
Won’t ag compete for any extra we may have so more land can be brought into production?
Eric Caine says
The water belongs to the people; if you’re in the service area, you won’t be refused the water.
Dave Thomas says
It is too late to save Modesto. The only thing that might work would be to have first rate K-12 schools to send kids to Universities and come back to start new businesses. That takes 2 decades, at least. Modesto will go bankrupt sooner than that.
Every Mayor in the last 10 years has lamented, “We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” Then they approve increased spending and higher wages, every year. The BEE reported that the average City Hall employee annual wage was $99,552 not including overtime or bonuses. Add 35% for benefits and you see what the problem is.
George Baker says
Couple of suggestions:
1. Work with the Stanislaus Alliance for Small Business Development. They can assist through their programs at EDD.
2. KAZV TV (Local TV station in Modesto) has a TV program called HIRE ME TV. This program is FREE to job seekers. It provides an opportunity to create a 3-5 minute “Video Resume” which is then broadcast throughout the area (broadcast range Stockton to Merced).Station is seen by about 100K viewers weekly.
3. KAZV is also looking for advertising sales reps.
For more info on either of these call 209-566-9135 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and ask for me.
Small business do what we can. Remember itis the small business that create and employ over 65% of the jobs.
Finally, Bruce Froman, please call me.