SJ County employment is high, but some employers and job seekers struggle to connect

Job seekers, left, sit for a résumé critique at San Joaquin County WorkNet's 13th Annual Job & Resource Fair at Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton in 2015.

Maricela Gutierrez used to pick apples and cherries for two farm labor contractors before being laid off in April.   

She has been looking for work ever since. 

Gutierrez said she lost her job after crop growers began insisting that the contractors downsize their crews to limit the spread of COVID-19.  

The risk of getting sick on the job is real. “Many of our co-workers had … COVID at some point,” she said.  

Now, a crew that used to have 20 people might now only have 10 or five, she said. 

Gutierrez says she is trying to get back on a crew, but space is tight. “Since a lot of people are in desperate need for work,” they are hanging on to their jobs, she said. A contractor told her she would only get a spot if someone left or got sick.  

While data suggests that the job market in San Joaquin County is strong, some potential workers struggle to find jobs, some businesses say they cannot find staff, and others are opting to seek retraining and start new careers instead of re-entering their old industries. 

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