A Vibrant Agricultural Sector Means a Strong Central Valley Economy
According to recently released figures from the California Employment Development Department (PDF) , the westside of the San Joaquin Valley suffers from the highest level of unemployment in the state at an average of 9.8%.
A 2017 study by Michael Shires, Ph.D. found that Westlands Water District alone directly accounts for nearly 29,000 jobs and $3.6 billion in economic activity per year. Moreover, the study found that agriculture directly contributes to one in six and one in five jobs in Fresno County and Kings County, respectively, and accounts for at least one-sixth and one-fourth of the economic output of Fresno County and Kings County, respectively.1 If water supply to the Central Valley were restored to put an additional 100,000 acres into production, the study estimated that at least 5,000 more agricultural jobs would be created (Shires, 5).
The positive effect of irrigated agriculture on the economy is clear. As water related decisions are made and policies formed, the economy of the San Joaquin Valley and livelihood of people who reside in communities that rely on agricultural jobs in our region are impacted – the key ingredient in the survival of these communities is water.
Everyone wins when California achieves the co-equal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.
1 Michael A. Shires, Ph.D., The Implications of Agricultural Water for the Central Valley, Page iii, District’s Website.