Waymo given green light to start testing fully self-driving cars in California

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 08:49AM
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The self-driving technology company, Waymo, announced it was given the green light to start testing fully driverless cars in California.

Similar testing is already underway in Arizona.

The designated testing area in California includes parts of Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

The company announced the news in a tweet on Tuesday, reading in part, “Waymo was just granted the first driverless test permit in the state of California.”

The permit by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows the testing on city streets, rural roads and even highways.

“I wouldn’t get in one yet,” Palo Alto resident, Joe Novosel told ABC7 News. “But you know, maybe five years or so I can see myself driving in them if they keep progressing the way they have.”

According to Waymo, its vehicles have driven more than ten-million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities since 2009.

Around the Peninsula today, people can spot the white Waymo vans, noticeably tricked out with technology.

“They really make no attempt at being hidden,” Novosel added.” They definitely like being seen with their logo white vans and all the crazy sensors that they have sticking off the top.”

“Waymo, by my outside observation of the industry, is certainly among the most advanced companies in this,” Sven Beiker told ABC7 News. Beiker is the managing director of Silicon Valley Mobility.

He says the permit will create a world of possibilities, like mobility options for seniors, those with disabilities or anyone unable to operate a vehicle themselves.

Beiker said testing will also allow developers to understand where the driverless technology is needed most. One possibility, he said, is late night bus rides and the option of having a bus drive from destination to destination on its own.

“The exciting thing is, we don’t really know what it might generate,” Beiker said. “I mean, think about the internet. Who would’ve thought what the internet enables.”

Beiker also addressed concern from consumers.

“The reason can be that we don’t have full knowledge. It could also be that we do have knowledge, and know that things can happen,” he explained. “Because after all, driving is a dangerous undertaking.”

Waymo announced the first driverless rides will be for members of the Waymo team. Eventually, the company will create opportunities for members of the public to experience the technology, as they’ve done in Arizona with its early rider program.

The California DMV has a list of accidents involving self-driving vehicles. To see the list, go here.


Gallo will expand into vacant Seneca fruit cannery in Modesto

Seneca on Finch Road in Modesto, Calif. is pictured on Monday October 29, 2018. E.&J. Gallo Winery has purchased part of the vacant fruit cannery for wine production purposes.
Seneca on Finch Road in Modesto, Calif. is pictured on Monday October 29, 2018. E.&J. Gallo Winery has purchased part of the vacant fruit cannery for wine production purposes. Joan Barnett Lee jlee@modbee.com

California Employment Report for September 2018

The Center for Jobs and the Economy has released our initial analysis of the September Employment Report released by the California Employment Development Department. For additional information and data about the California economy visitwww.centerforjobs.org/ca.

CA Unemployment Rate Improves
CA Unemployment Rate

EDD reports California’s unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in September dipped to 4.1%–the lowest level since the current unemployment series began in 1976. Total employment was up 34,600 from August, while total unemployment was down by 300. Total labor force was up 34,300, while the labor force participation rate improved to 62.0%.

By race/ethnicity: Latino unemployment was level at 5.2%; White improved to 4.2%; and Black dipped to 6.6%.  Note the demographic results are a 12-month moving average.

US Unemployment Rate Improves
US Unemployment Rate

The US unemployment rate improved to 3.7%. National employment was up 420,000, unemployment down by 270,000, and the labor force up by 150,000.  The US labor force participation rate was level at 62.7%.

CA Labor Force Unchanged Over Year
CA Change In
Labor Force

California’s labor force was essentially unchanged over the year ending September 2018, growing by only 4,800.  The US as a whole grew 0.8 million – a 0.5% expansion.  While workers elsewhere continue to return to the workforce, California’s low rate has implications for continued growth in the state, including the ability to sustain job growth if fewer workers are available and continued effects on state and local budgets for higher social program spending compared to other states.

California Ranks 5th by Employment Growth
Total Employment Gains

Total Employment Gains  At a 12-month gain of 81,100, California ranked 5th among the states for employment growth.  Texas led with 251,500, followed by Massachusetts at 157,700, Florida at 148,800, and Georgia at 106,000.

Nonfarm Jobs Up
Job Gains

Nonfarm wage and salary jobs rose slower at 13,200 (seasonally adjusted) in September, while jobs nationally grew by 134,000. August’s gains were revised to 42,600 from the previously reported 44,800. Biggest gains were in Administrative & Support & Waste Services (8,800; $44.7k), Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation (6,300; $57.8k), and Government (5,100; $67.7k). Losses were in nine industries, led by Information (-3,000; $168.4k) Educational Services (-2,400; $53.4k), and Construction (-2,000; $67.7k). All salary numbers are the latest 4-quarter average from Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages.

California Drops to #3 For Job Growth
State Ran By Job Gains

For the 12 months ending September 2018, California gained 339,600 nonfarm jobs, behind Florida which saw growth of 407,300.  Texas came in second at 406,400.

Counties with Double-Digit Unemployment
Counties with
Above 10%

The number of counties with an unemployment rate at 10% or higher remained at one:  Imperial. The number with unemployment rates at or below 5% rose to 45, with 11 counties at 3% or below.  San Mateo had the lowest rate at 2.1%, while Imperial had the highest at 19.3%.


Valley Children’s moving forward with plans for new Merced medical facility

Central Valley Business TImes

October 16, 2018

  • Will be on site of former police headquarters
  • “This is a great addition to the medical landscape”

Valley Children’s Healthcare has entered into negotiations to buy a 4.54-acre parcel in North Merced to create a specialty medical building. The Merced City Council unanimously approved the agreement at its Monday meeting.

The proposed purchase price is $2.1 million. The property is the former police headquarters site on the northwest corner of Yosemite Avenue and Mansionette Drive.

“This is a great addition to the medical landscape,” says Mayor Pro Tem Jill McLeod, a nurse practitioner. “Valley Children’s is a name that parents and doctors have trusted for decades, with caring, knowledgeable staff and excellent service. We are very fortunate to have them expanding their operations in Merced.”

Each year, more than 14,000 children from Merced County are cared for by Valley Children’s team of pediatric specialists. Since 1989, Valley Children’s has provided outpatient support  at Olivewood Specialty Care Center. Today, only 23 percent of outpatient visits are able to be made in Merced. A new pediatric primary and specialty care medical office in the city will expand that figure to 90 percent, the city says.

“As demands for pediatric services in Merced continue to grow, we are committed to keeping as many families as close to home as possible,” says Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak. “Our ultimate goal is to have every family throughout the Valley be within 30 minutes or 30 miles from a Valley Children’s pediatric doctor, because that is what is bestfor kids and their families.”

“This ties in well to our existing medical community,” adds Economic Development Director Frank Quintero. “Mercy Medical Center is just blocks away, Golden Valley Health Center will be around the corner and we have other medical facilities nearby.”

Since 1989, Valley Children’s has operated a pediatric specialty care center in the city of Merced and since 1996, it has owned and operated a level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Medical Center. Valley Children’s Healthcare is one of the biggest pediatric healthcare networks in the country, serving more than 1.3 million children in 12 counties throughout Central California and the Central Coast.

The new outpatient center in Merced will offer several pediatric specialties, including pediatric cardiology and pediatric neurology. The first phase of the building would be 15,000 to  20,000 square feet and could grow to 40,000 square feet as demand for pediatric services increases.

It’s expected to have 50 to 60 full-time equivalent employees at build-out with salaries and benefits totaling $4-$5 million. Mr. Quintero says the purchase is just the first step in a long process before the medical center is constructed and opened.

“We will help them move through the planning and permitting process as quickly as possible, but Valley Children’s has several other projects ahead of us, so it will take some time before they have this one shovel-ready.”

The city purchased the property in 2010 with the intention of building the new police headquarters on the site. Construction was put on hold during the Great Recession and subsequently the site was re-evaluated and it was determined that the location wasn’t the best for a police station. The city purchased the Merced Sun-Star property on G Street for the police headquarters and decided to surplus the Yosemite Avenue land.


New school for barbers and cosmetologists opens in Clovis


By Jason Oliveira

Monday, October 15, 2018 06:24PM

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) — For those looking to break into the cosmetology or barbering field Clovis’ Institute of Technology now offers a career training program.

Officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday to help kick off the Academy of Hair Design.

“Right now I have nine barbers enrolled and four cosmetologists, there’ s definitely a high demand for barbering,” said Program Director, Ramanda Ramirez.

Officials say the resurgence in men’s grooming was enough to launch the program.

In fact, the employment of barbers is projected to grow 13% over the next eight years, that’s faster than the average for all occupations.

Joseph Guzman of Corcoran decided to sign up for the new program after seeing an online ad.

He’s now part of the Institute’s first wave of students learning cutting-edge hair styling techniques.

And it’s not just all about the locks, these students are taught skills that can help them market themselves on social media.

Officials say the 10-month course not only promises real work training and experience but the business skills needed to succeed after graduation.

The idea to enroll in the school’s new venture into cosmetology and barbering is what drew Alyssa Parish of Mendota to the program.

“It’s really nice, we get a lot of new things and everything is brand new and it’s high tech,” said Alyssa Parish.

Once again the course goes 10-months and costs just under $20,000.

Students can begin cutting hair for $5 beginning in December.


State should see strong economy through next year, economists say

Central Valley Business TImes

October 12, 2018

  • But may slow noticeably starting in 2020
  • Housing starts still next keeping up with populationgrowth

The California’s real gross state product is projected to grow at a 3.2 percent rate in 2018 and 2019, and average 2 percent annual growth for 2020 to 2022.

California’s record low unemployment rate of 4.2 percent is projected to fall further to a low of 3.9 percent in 2019 before gradually increasing. Non-farm payrolls are projected to grow at a 1.9 percent rate in 2018, and gradually decline to below 1 percent growth by the end of 2020.

Most of the Northern California metro areas covered in the forecast are growing faster than the state as a whole with the San Jose, Stockton, and Merced areas leading the way.

The continued pace of Bay Area growth is remarkable in light of its housing and labor force constraints as unemployment is below 3 percent throughout the region, the report says. The Bay Area spillover effects are helping to boost Central Valley areas, especially Stockton where new fulfillment and  distribution centers and a commuter-led boost in residential development are driving growth.

“Sacramento job growth has been slightly slower than other areas of Northern California, but we expect Sacramento’s government-based economy to maintain job growth at 2 percent in 2020 as percent growth in 2020 as recession risks grow.

  • The California unemployment rate is forecast to average 4.2 percent for 2018 and fall further below its record low to 3.9 percent in 2019 before gradually increasing.
  • Nonfarm payroll jobs will grow 1.6 percent over the next 12 months, dropping below 2 percent growth for the first time since 2011. Payroll growth will drop below 1 percent by late 2020 which is expected for an economy at full employment after a long expansion.
  • Health services has become the largest employment sector in the state after a period of rapid growth. Health services is projected to add more than 35,000 positions over the next 12 months, a slowdown from the 85,000 health services jobs added in 2017.
  • Professional scientific & technical services is a high-paying sector that has fueled the recovery, and is forecast to be a growth leader in 2019 adding over 60,000 jobs.
  • Growing tourism and a gradual shift in consumer spending from retail to restaurants has fueled rapid growth in the leisure and hospitality sector. This sector has added up to 75,000 jobs in recent years, but we project about 10,000 new jobs in each of the next few years as rising labor costs and low labor availability drives change in the hospitality sector.
  • State and local government employment experienced solid 2 percent employment growth from 2014 to 2017 as public budgets, especially in education, recovered. However, state and local government hiring will drop below 1 percent for the next several years in spite of revenue growth as these entities grapple with rising costs of pensions and other compensation.
  • Construction jobs have been growing rapidly in recent years as the hard hit sector continues to recover. “We expect a slight slowdown in construction job growth in 2019, about 20,000 new jobs compared to 40,000 to 50,000 in recent years,” the report says. “Job growth is limited by worker availability, and construction wages have been growing fast, and we expect job growth to pick up after 2019 as workers respond to higherwages.”
  • Single family housing starts are projected to surpass 65,000 this year and level off at around 75,000 in 2020 and beyond. Multi-family production is projected to be near 55,000 units this year and stabilize near this level. This projection of 130,000 new units per year will be enough to keep up with modest 0.7 percent projected annual population growth, but will not be enough to provide relief to California’s housing crisis. California’s population growth rate has declined to 0.7 percent and is projected to remain at this level through 2022. California’s population will reach 40 million next year, and is adding about 275,000 new residents per year.

About the report’s source:

The Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific was founded in 2004 and was known as the Business Forecasting Center until March 2015. The Center is a joint program of the Eberhardt School of Business and the McGeorge School of Law programs in public policy and has offices at the Sacramento and Stockton campuses. The Center produces economic forecasts of California and eight metropolitan areas in Northern and Central California, in depth studies of regional economic and policy issues, and conducts custom studies for public and private sector clients.

For the full report:

https://www.pacific.edu/Documents/school-business/BFC/ Forecasts/CA%20Metro%20Forecast%20October%202018- E.pdf


Published On September 21, 2018 – 1:20 PM
Written By Gabriel Dillard

Central Valley unemployment rates continued to tumble in August, according to the latest data from the state Employment Development Department.

Fresno County’s unemployment rate for August was 6.6 percent, below 7.1 percent in July and 7.7 percent a year ago.

On the month-over basis, total employment increased by 500 jobs. Government employment saw the biggest drop with 3,000 jobs as schools recessed for the summer. Farms saw the largest increase with 1,800 jobs as harvest activity ramped up, while manufacturing gained 1,000 jobs.

On an annual basis, government saw the largest increase with 1,700 jobs, as did professional and business services with an additional 1,700 added to payrolls.

In Kings County, the unemployment rate for August was 6.7 percent, down from 7.4 percent in July and 7.7 percent a year ago.

Farms lost 100 jobs month-over-month, while government saw the largest bump with 400 additional positions.

Year-over-year, manufacturing hiring dipped by 700 jobs, while educational & health services saw the biggest spike with 300 jobs.

Madera County’s unemployment rate last month was 6.2 percent, down from 7 percent in July and 7.3 percent a year ago.

Farms added 1,100 positions month-over-month, while professional & business services employment shrunk by 100 positions.

On an annual basis, farm employment was unchanged while nonfarm industries added 1,200 jobs, led by educational & health services and government with 300 new jobs in each category.

Tulare County’s unemployment rate was 8.7 percent for August, down from 9.4 percent in July and 10 percent a year ago.

Farm employment dipped by 400 jobs month-over-month, while government had the biggest increase with 2,800 positions.

On an annual basis, farms added 3,700 jobs while professional & business services received the largest boost with 1,500 new positions.

California’s unemployment rate remained at 4.2 percent for the fifth consecutive month.


A new store is taking over two empty Shaw Ave. spots. It’s a familiar name – with a twist

September 27, 2018 08:59 AM

Updated September 27, 2018 11:34 AM

Merced may become part of a mega-region

Central Valley Business Times

Sept. 23, 2018

  • Would be one of 21 counties centered on Silicon Valley
  • “It’s not just about creating a bedroom community here”

A 21-county mega-region, centered on Silicon Valley, would incorporate many northern Central Valley counties and perhaps mean one of the biggest economic boosts to the Valley in its history.

“Today we are focusing on the economic potential of building greater interconnectedness, which would have major benefits to both regions,” says University of California, Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “It’s not just about creating a bedroom community here. We will be attracting businesses and industries that will help lift Merced, the Valley and the state.”

The proposed Northern California “mega-region” would connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, according to Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman. In all, 21 counties would be grouped into four regions: Bay Area, Sacramento Area, Norther San Joaquin Valley and Monterey Bay Area.

The mega-region would possess one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation and allow for more interconnectivity and innovation, he says. Mr. Wunderman says projects like high-speed rail would help create stronger and more profitable partnerships for the entire mega-region.

“When you look at the Central Valley and the Bay Area, you think of separate places that are far away,” Mr. Wunderman says. “Once that transportation connection is complete, the game is going to change.”

He cited Merced as a potential hub because of its proximity to where the proposed high speed rail line would connect from north and south to the Bay Area.