California's drought is expected to cost 18,600 people their jobs this year, and Hispanics are most at risk

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We are still waiting for good news on California's drought in 2015. In just the past few weeks, we've learned some residents can't shower for more than two minutes, and that snowpack has been reduced to zero.

More bad news comes this week: In their preliminary 2015 report monitoring its impact on the state's economy, California researchers are projecting job losses totaling 18,600, a 9 percent increase from last year's estimate of 17,100.


In total, the authors expect the drought to cause $2.7 billion in lost revenues in 2015, including $1.2 billion in direct lost farm income.

"The drought in 2014 and 2015 is causing substantial land fallowing and significant job losses," the authors write. "Global and national market forces and farm adjustments are important for mitigating drought impacts to agriculture and California’s economy."


If last year's patterns hold, the job loss impacts will be largely concentrated in the San Joaquin Valley and during the growing season, which lasts from April to September. Here's the chart showing what a given month of job changes looked like last year compared with 2013.

They will also be disproportionately felt by one group in particular.

"Half of these workers are undocumented," co-author Richard Howitt, professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California-Davis, told Fusion. This confirms a Fusion report from April showing the drought's disproportionate impact on undocumented Hispanic workers.


Howitt said the losses could be greater or worse than projected because their status makes them difficult to count.

The job increases seen elsewhere are due to the fact that California's agricultural sector remains in a secular growth period. However, the job losses demonstrate that the drought is causing this growth to slow, Howitt said. In a normal year, he said, the state's ag industry would be adding 5,000 jobs a year.


"In some areas, farmers haven’t had an area to plant [new ground] crops," he told Fusion. "All the water they've got is being used to keep tree crops alive."

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.