County jobless rate more than 18%

John Lindt

California Employment Development Department reports a 10% increase from 2019’s May jobless rate

VISALIA – The novel corona virus has left economic destruction in its wake. How long it will take to rebuild is currently unknown, and in terms of jobless numbers, employees are reeling.

According to California’s Employment Development Department, the unemployment rate in Tulare County was 18.4% in May 2020, down from a revised 19.3% in April, but 10% higher than a year ago.

This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 15.9% for California and 13% for the nation during the same period. Year-over-year there are about 30,000 more who are jobless compared to May 2019. The numbers are evenly divided between non-farm and farm jobs who have lost about 15,000 each.

CarMax seeks planning commission OK

Coronavirus may have stalled used car giant CarMax sales recently but the company is ready to move forward on their planned South Mooney store in Visalia as we enter the recovery. The company had earlier pulled their request for a conditional use permit back in April.

The Visalia Planning Commission set a hearing for the proposed 5-acre dealership for Monday June 22, and took up the item after press time. If approved a new showroom and sales yard would be located at a developing 28-acre shopping center at the southwest corner of Mooney and Visalia Parkway.

As well, if approved, the project would likely be heard by the Visalia City Council where it faces an uncertain fate. Neighbors have lodged complaints in the past saying that a Mooney dealership would bring unwanted noise and lighting.

Greater than their potential location in Visalia, according to the company’s latest sales report, COVID-19 has hurt CarMax sales. Comparable-store used unit sales declined 42% during the quarter, though rebounded part way in May, CarMax CEO Bill Nash noted in the company’s first outer earnings statement in the past few days.

Used-car sales have generally recovered better than new as consumers sought out bargains. According to Cox Automotive, new-vehicle sales fell 30% in May while used sales fell 22%. In the week ending May 28, new sales shrank 28%, but used sales rose 6%.

Perfection Pet Foods plans expansion

Pets are generally unaware there is a COVID-19 shutdown and will no doubt cheer a planned expansion of the big Perfection Pet Food plant owned by Western Milling in the Visalia industrial Park.

The company is seeking approval to build a new 150 square foot storage tower and new 3,600 square foot receiving building, The bigger tower elevator is ten feet taller than the existing tower that will remain. The company sought out a variance to height limits in front of the Visalia Planning Commission’s Monday meeting after press time.

Akers Food Court construction underway

Restaurants around town are just now opening due to the Coronavirus impact. Visalia developer Harvey May says the crisis has had limited impact on plans already underway to build the new Akers Plaza commercial center.

The project offers a clustered group of restaurants, “essentially a food court “for Akers and the westside of Visalia. The new development, under construction now, is located at the southwest quadrant of Akers and Cypress Avenue in what was formerly part of the CIGNA parking lot.

Located near major employers in the west end of town, they include Kaweah Delta, the Lifestyle Center, CIGNA, the County and Visalia Unified. May expects the location to have “plenty of car traffic” that passes the development every day.

Tenants who have committed to the location include Taco Bell, Dutch Bros Coffee’s first Visalia location, Little Caesars and Sourdough & Co. There is over 10,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space still available at the new project.

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