Why is the unemployment rate in Yuma, AZ so high?

This one can’t just be answered by, “Blame Bush.”

10 year unemployment history for Yuma, AZ

Yuma, AZ seems to always have an unemployment rate WAY above the national average. Why is that?

I realize that Yuma is a border city with a large number of both legal and illegal immigrants.

I realize that there is agricultural work in the area which is seasonal.

I also realize that the city receives a decent number of winter tourists which could account for seasonal variation in employment at hotels and restaurants.

Still, I have to think there is something not accounted for here. Yuma is close enough to San Diego, Phoenix, and Tucson which all have a “normal” level of unemployment. US unemployment rates for June, 2004. If my city reached a 25% unemployment rate, I’d move in a heartbeat. Is there an “underground” economy of workers crossing the border, working in Mexico, and still being counted “unemployed?”

I’ve driven through the city and it didn’t seem like a place right out of the Great Depression.

Disclaimer: IANA statistician nor an economist.


Sez “agribusiness” is the Big Business there–out of five “major private employers”, three are Dole, Salyer, and Gowan, all specializing in fruits and veggies requiring large amounts of migrant farm labor.

And with migrant farm labor, you have huge periodic layoffs when all the crop is picked, before the next crop is ready. And you get big bounces in the unemployment rate graphs.

Just a WAG.

<< bounce >> from page 2.

Also, I don’t know how unemployment figures are actually figured, but if it’s strictly on a per-capita population, there’s an enormous number of elderly people living there.

I lived in Yuma for a few months. Dry, hot, dusty, and not so much as a city bus for public transportation. Yuma just sucks.
There are 83,000 year-round residents. And 80,000 winter visitors. I’m thinking the high unemployment rate might be due to that. ?

Unemployment is calculated by the proportion of people over 18 that are actively looking for work out of all the people who have/are looking for work. There are some subtleties that vary from country to country but thats the basic formula. So no, the elderly wouldn’t count.

The elderly are not in the workforce and thus do not count in the workforce. I’d think they would increase employment as they have a demand for services such as medical care. They also have a greater percentage of their income to spend on leisure.

I would also think that the winter tourism would help. However, even in winter months, unemployment rate is usually 2 to 3 three times the US average.

I believe there is also a military base there.

Here is the US Census Data

I’m a native of Yuma–and proud of it. It’s nice and quiet and not too crowded. (BTW, the metropolitan statistical area also includes the growing town of San Luis.) I might have a little insight on this issue.
Aside from agribizz, the two main employers are the Army (Yuma Proving Grounds) and the Marine Corps (MCAS Yuma). A lot of the testing and such is done by contractors in the defense industry.
From my observation, part of the reason for the shortage of jobs is that the companies who subcontract at these bases tend to transfer in specialists from other locales, because few locals are likely to have the required skills or training needed.
What’s left over for the natives are jobs in the service sector–and employeres hire as few people as they can operate with and then overwork them.
Another important employer (though this is changing, I hear) is the criminal justice system–the county sherrif, US Border Patrol, Customs, a big state prison, etc. A lot of those people are trained at the local community college, AWC. Criminal Justice is also a big major at the Yuma branch of Northern Arizona University.
There isn’t a lot of industry because there isn’t much room for it. Once you subtract all of the fedreral land (YPG, MCAS, the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, and a couple of large wildlfe refuges) and what’s left of the irrigated farmland (what hasn’t been developed yet), there isn’t really much private land left over. There is a carpet fiber plant in the city (which seems to change name and ownership every couple of years), but it’s mostly automated.