The unemployment rate here and for the whole of Imperial County hit 30.1 percent in September, the highest rate in the United States. Locals say there is no denying that El Centro has suffered as a result of the recession and that jobs are more scarce in an area where agriculture is the backbone of the community and forms 25 percent of the local economy.
“We’ve always had high unemployment, but nothing like this,” said Judith Klein-Pritchard, director of the Center for Family Solutions of Imperial Valley, which provides intervention for domestic violence and shelter services in the area.
However, officials like El Centro city manager Ruben Duran say the jobless numbers don’t tell the full story.
Duran points to the fact that back in March 2006 unemployment in Imperial County fell to 12.2 percent and the number of employed people in this county of around 160,000 totaled 54,057.