Thanks to this year's abundant precipitation, Westlands' 2011 crop report shows harvested acres increased by 139,000 acres compared to 2009 (and about 70,000 acres higher than 2010). This is the highest level of harvested acres reported by Westlands Water District since 2000. Cotton increased by more than 70,000 acres with lower increases in wheat, onions, garlic, lettuce, almonds, and pistachios. The increaed production undoubtedly provided an economic boost to the area.
Despite the increased farm production, according to California EDD, Mendota's unemployment rate averaged a record 42.3% in the first 10 months of 2011, but don't expect any news reports on this shocking statistic despite the fact that unemployment is 4.5 percentage points higher than the 38.7% recorded during the 1st 10 months of 2009 in the peak of the water/unemployment media frenzy.
Of course, I don't believe this estimate now any more than I believed it in 2009. Unemployment has almost certainly dropped in Mendota. I have explained before why this EDD methodology for estimating unemployment in small towns; especially farming towns; is enormously flawed and should be ignored. Maybe now a few more people will believe it.
For a more reliable estimate from a valid survey, the Census Bureau's 2006-2010 ACS estimated Mendota unemployment averaged 21.6% over that 5 year period. My rough guess is that it is probably around 25% this year, and was around 30% during 2009.
This is probably one too many posts on this topic. Sorry for the redundancy, but with Westlands crops data and the latest 5-year ACS estimate of Mendota unemployment released this month, it seemed worth an update.