CIRS Blog about Rural California

For children in the Salinas Valley with diabetes, seeing a specialist can involve long wait times or many miles in the car.

 

That means some children simply go without care.

 

But earlier this month, UCSF Medical Center and Salinas Memorial Healthcare System gave these children another option.

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At least 40 workers at Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler lost their jobs after federal immigration agents began checking employee records recently, searching for people who are not legally allowed to work in the United States.

 

The enforcement action is part of an ongoing effort by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to make sure employers aren’t knowingly hiring someone who is undocumented.

 

James Schwab, ICE spokesman, said the work site enforcement is nothing new and remains a priority of special agents with Homeland Security Investigations to ensure employers are in compliance with the law.

 

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Napa and Sonoma counties were affected by wildfires in October 2017 spread by very high winds. Over 4,700 homes were destroyed, including 3,000 in Santa Rosa, and 10,000 were damaged; 43 people died and 100,000 people were displaced by the fires. Insured losses are over $7.5 billion, making the October 2017 fires the most costly in U.S. history.

 

With an unemployment rate of less than three percent in a county adding jobs faster than homes, median home prices in Sonoma County topped $650,000 in November 2017.

 

The fires were likely caused by sparking power lines downed by winds that gusted to more than 70 mph. The 2017 wine grape harvest was almost completed when the fires broke out, so speculation centered on the longer-term effects of the fires on wineries and their workers, some of whom lost both wages and their housing.

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California's New Minimum Wage

 

California's minimum wage rose from $10.50 to $11 an hour January 1, 2018 for employers with 26 employees or more. These employers will pay at least $15 an hour after January 1, 2022.

 

Labor Shortages

 

The California Farm Bureau Federation reported that over half of 760 farm employers responding to a survey experienced labor shortages over the past year, similar to the share reporting labor shortages in 2012. Of those reporting labor shortages, most reported they were up to 20 percent short of the desired number of workers.

 

Half of the farmers reporting labor shortages increased wages and added benefits and incentives to attract and retain workers, many of whom are aging and reducing their hours of work. A third of farmers used more labor-saving machines, and another 30 percent investigated mechanization. Some farmers reduced their acreage of labor-intensive crops.

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By Ron Shinkman

 

After nearly a decade of cuts and incomplete coverage, Californians enrolled in the state’s low-income dental program have full coverage this year.

 

But whether there will actually be enough dentists willing to accept the low-reimbursement rates and red tape often attached to the Denti-Cal program remains to be seen.

 

Denti-Cal provides dental services to roughly 14 million children and adults statewide. But coverage for the 7 million adults enrolled was hobbled for years following the 2007 economic recession.

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