Merced County Merced is a centrally located in California, USA. The county stretches from the Sierra foothills and the Coastal Range. It borders Mariposa, Santa Clara, Madera, Fresno, Mariposa, Stanislaus, and San Benito…
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Sixty eight percent of the population lies between 18 and 65 years, which is a good indicator of the county’s labor force market. Agriculture is the base of the county’s economy. As a result, Merced has been ranking among the top producers of chicken, cattle, calves, milk, cream, tomatoes, and silage in the state of California. In addition, the county is home to some of the world’s largest agricultural processing facilities, including the Hilmar Cheese production, Fosters Farms Poultry processing, Ingomar Packing Company tomatoes processing, and Ernest and Julio Gallo winery. Despite this, the unemployment rate has been on a steady rise since 2000 in the county. Census reports indicate that the rate of unemployment was 9.6% in 2000, shooting to 16% in the 2009 census. The country’s overall economic crisis since 2001 may be a reason, but there is need to salvage the situation. The rise in unemployment is a contributing factor to the current high rates of crime. Another economic metric of concern is the labor market, which stood at 90,500 in 2000, increasing to 105,200 in 2009 (US Census Bureau). The figures indicate that there has been a relative growth in the county’s labor force. Accordingly, 86,678 individuals older than 16 years were under employment in comparison to 105,059 the year 2009 in the same category, indicating a slow growth of employment opportunities in the county. New business establishments rose from 4700 in 2000 to 5832 in 2009. Other metrics indicate that the county is experiencing a dormant growth in large-scale business establishment, but with more small-scale businesses being setup. The result is the absorption of a relatively small percentage of the labor market by the new businesses. Another concern is the educational level of the county’s population. According to the US census Bureau data of 2000, only about 68.5% of individuals older than 25 years had attained a high school diploma, and a mere 11% had a bachelor’s degree or higher education. these percentages are low compared to the averages of California state, which recorded 76.8% in high school diploma holders and 26.6% with a bachelor’s degree or higher, indicating that the work force is relatively under-qualified. Sustainability in the food manufacturing and processing has changed the heavy reliance of the economy on production of farm crops. Consequently, the county has been attracting a significant number of manufacturing and processing plants with interests outside the agricultural sector. The county’s economic development is a responsibility of the Merced County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDCO). The corporation oversees the economic coordination of various efforts and organization that seeks to improve the county’s labor force market as well as provide a favorable business environment that will attract new businesses into the region (Moffat 46). MCEDCO claim that the county has been changing its reliability on agriculture but the fact is that the county still relies on the agricultural sector, from revenues to job (which often pay low wages and are seasonal). In order to maintain economic sustainability of the county, there is need for the MCEDCO to engage in several economic development efforts, including general economic development, economic base diversification, workforce training and education, economic partnerships, existing business retention and expansion, new business recruitment and attraction, and tourism attraction. The MCEDCO (whose members
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