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As the economy starts to slowly reopen in Fresno County amid COVID-19 restrictions, many companies are reporting large layoffs, according to the Employment Development Department.

The most recent unemployment data through March shows Fresno County at 10.8% unemployment, nearly double the 5.6% state rate.

One of the largest employers to report recent numbers, the nonprofit California Teaching Fellows Foundation, placed 460 employees on temporary layoff.

“We’re a Story of Resilience”

“We’re a story of resilience. Our community needs leaders, needs teachers. And we’re going to continue to be here for a long, long time, serving our community.”Mike Snell, CEO of CTFF

Mike Snell, the CEO of CTFF, says his foundation connects more than 2,000 area college students with on-the-job teaching experience, mainly in after school programs. Most of the fellows work part-time, 17-20 hours a week. The switch to virtual schools means nearly a quarter of his teaching fellows lost their jobs.

“We’re devastated. Even today, we continue to try to find a way to provide services and support to the folks that were temporarily laid off. We are optimistic that we’ll be able to return them back to work. And we’re optimistic that schools will come back,” Snell said.

The layoffs are on top of what Snell anticipates to be further financial hardships. He expects to lose 20% of his $25 million operating budget, funded in part by local school districts.

Snell remains optimistic.

“We’re a story of resilience. Our community needs leaders, needs teachers. And we’re going to continue to be here for a long, long time, serving our community,” Snell said.

Snell is proud that hundreds of graduates have gone on to work as teachers and administrators.

“They learn more about what it means to be a teacher and how to positively impact young people’s lives. They learn about the climate in the culture of schools and how to learn how to work with diverse populations,” Snell said.

When Will Costco Food Samples Resume?

“We will be working with (Costco) to develop solutions on maintaining social distancing around our demo stations.”Don Dohanyos, president of CDS

Club Demonstration Services, which provides the food sampling tables at local Costcos, laid off 78 employees in Clovis.

A message last week on its website from president Don Dohanyos offers optimism about returning. Dohanyos pointed to the resumption of food sampling at all Costco stores in Australia as evidence.

“Our associates were glad to be back in the warehouses and members were pleased to see us up and running,” he said. Dohanyos included photos showing CDS employees wearing face masks behind their food sampling stations.

“The Costco teams are fully behind our demos and want to do everything they can to help us come back when restrictions ease. We will be working with them to develop solutions on maintaining social distancing around our demo stations,” Dohanyos wrote.

CDS and Costco are still working on a list of what will be needed to resume in each region, he said.

Reporting from Other Industries

Employers are required by state labor law to report Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) figures. The most recent list from EDD contains industries effectively shuttered by local and state COVID-19 restrictions — restaurants, retail, and entertainment.

Recent numbers show Ross Stores reported 237 temporary layoffs in Fresno County; used-car retailer CarMax Fresno said 208 employees have also been temporarily laid off.

Medical facilities also are feeling the pain. St. Agnes Medical Center reported 175 temporary layoffs and 18 permanent losses. Western Dental laid off 102 temporarily.

Fresno County Layoff Figures

Information from EDD, through May 17.

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