Economic Concerns Trump Immigration In Border Poll

Yuma County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and along the U.S.-Mexico border, buttressing a Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News poll showing that jobs and the economy, not a wall or illegal immigration, are the top concerns for residents.

“It’s really hard. Jobs here don’t pay well,” said Jose Jimenez, 19, an accounting student at Arizona Western College in Yuma.

Jimenez’s struggle to find work is reflected in the poll, with 40 percent of the 700 respondents in the United States saying jobs, wages and the economy are the most important issues. In Yuma, that number is even higher at 48 percent.

The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, was conducted in May by Austin-based Baselice & Associates Inc. It included questions on quality of life and cross-border relations, and was conducted in person and over the phone in both English and Spanish.

Jimenez recently stopped by the MLK Youth Center to update his resume. He’s living with his mother while he searches for work.

The border community is home to roughly 200,000 people, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. As of April 2016, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 18.7 percent, where it has hovered since the 2009 recession.

“What is reflected in our unemployment is a combination of things: It is the seasonality, because we are also one of the winter visitor targeted regions,” said Julie Engel, CEO of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp.

“We get about a hundred thousand people in the winter, and that’s also the produce season, which is labor-intensive, so in the summer, our unemployment rate spikes,” said Engel.

By Yuma Sun
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