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The unemployment rate in the Kings County was 8.5 percent in August, down from a revised 8.8 percent in July and below the year-ago estimate of 8.8 percent. This compares with an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent for California and 4.5 percent for the nation during the same period.

Kings County home sales climb in August

California’s housing market defied gravity as existing home sales and median home price registered increases on both a monthly and an annual basis in August, the California Association of Realtors says. Likewise for Kings County, where the median price of an existing home was up 7.5 percent and sales were higher by a strong 18.1 percent. Inventories of homes for sale were down.

Helping to boost activity is a decline in 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rates that averaged 3.88 percent in August, down from 3.97 percent in July but was up from 3.44 percent in August 2016 according to Freddie Mac.

Cattle auction to benefit Congressman Valadao

You know you are living in Kings County when your congressman seeks donations of a milk cow to help his re-election effort. That is what supporters are planning with a live auction now set for Oct. 6 at Hanford’s A&M Livestock Auction set to benefit Congressman David Valadao, a dairyman by trade. Contributions of up to $5,400 per couple in a general election are allowed.

Kern County ag tops Tulare for #1 bragging rights

The 2016 Tulare County Crop Report, released this week, shows a drop of almost 9 percent from 2015 to $6.37 billion, well below Kern County at $7.18 billion.

That means Tulare County falls to second place in bragging rights for top ag county. So, what happened?

Milk dropped by $72 million, field crops were down by $300 million - grapes, peaches, and walnuts all dropped, based on lower per ton price. The big blow came in the one-third decline in cattle prices with the value falling nearly $300 million. Tulare County’s pomegranates fell in value from $40 million in 2015 to just $7.5 million.

In Kern County, cherry yields were up 250 percent. But the big factor is nuts. Kern is where they grow 40 percent of the state’s pistachio crop (up $500 million) and 20 percent of the U.S. almond crop.

Costco competition helps keep lid on Hanford gas prices

Now that Costco is part of the local landscape, the big warehouse store is doing what it does all over - selling gas just about cheaper than everyone else.

The Hanford Costco is selling regular this week for $2.65, one the lowest prices in California, says Gas Buddy. That is unusual for our metro to have comparative low prices. The new competition here appears to push five other Hanford gasoline sellers to offer regular at $2.79 or lower – while others –including five Chevron stations in town – seem like they pay no attention with prices well above $3. The Costco price is a bargain given the state average now is $3.16. Where there is little price competition like Kettleman City, best prices range up to $3.79.

Costco remains one of U.S. consumers’ favorite places to fill their gas tanks, according to a 2017 study by Market Force Information. Year after year, Gas Buddy's annual report announces that Costco offers the most competitive gasoline pricing in the nation so the consumer can count on getting a good price without seeing the price posted.

Pom Wonderful buys Firebaugh pomegranate grower

Pom Wonderful, the largest U.S. grower, and producer of fresh pomegranates, pomegranate arils and pomegranate juice, has acquired Ruby Fresh. Ruby Fresh is one of the largest growers, shippers and packers of fresh pomegranates in the USA. Specializing in fresh pomegranates and pomegranate arils, Ruby Fresh is part of Oro Loma Ranch in Firebaugh. POM Wonderful sells its own brand of pomegranate beverages and fruit extracts. It was founded in 2002 by the billionaire industrial agriculture couple Stewart and Lynda Resnick who own several other Valley-based ag companies.

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at

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