ACA Repeal: Worse than the Drought for San Joaquin Valley Jobs

Laurel Luciaand Ken Jacobs

California’s San Joaquin Valley stands to lose 24,000 jobs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed—more than the number of jobs lost statewide in 2015 due to the drought.

Just how bad would repealing the Affordable Care Act be for the San Joaquin Valley economy? We estimate that 24,000 jobs would be eliminated. That’s more lost jobs in the San Joaquin Valley alone than the estimated 21,000 jobs lost in 2015 in the entire state due to the drought.

The coverage gains under the ACA led to a historic 46% reduction in the San Joaquin Valley’s uninsured rate, from 18.2% in 2013 to 8.3% in 2015. More than 470,000 San Joaquin Valley residents—or 11.2% of the region’s population–enrolled in the ACA Medi-Cal expansion, more than the share that enrolled statewide (9.4%). More than 100,000 residents in the region receive federal subsidies averaging $3,700 per year that help them afford private insurance through Covered California. These health insurance gains would be reversed if the ACA is repealed without a comprehensive replacement.

The loss of health insurance under ACA repeal would lead to reduced demand and funding for healthcare services, resulting in 17,000 fewer jobs in the region’s healthcare industry. Healthcare workers would spend less at local businesses, creating a ripple effect of job loss throughout all industries, leading to a total job loss of 24,000. The industries that would be most affected in addition to healthcare are restaurants, real estate, insurance brokerages, and employment services.

San Joaquin Valley’s projected job loss under ACA repeal is greater than the 21,000 jobs lost in the entire state in 2015 due to the drought, as estimated in a study by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Studies, UC Agricultural Issues Center, and ERA Economics. Approximately half of these lost jobs were in the agricultural industry, while the rest were in other industries and resulted from the same ripple effect that would occur under ACA repeal.

The San Joaquin Valley region is already suffering from a higher than average unemployment rate of 8.8%, compared to the statewide unemployment rate of 5.3%. Just as San Joaquin Valley residents cannot afford the loss of health insurance that would occur under ACA repeal, the region cannot afford the loss of 24,000 jobs.

For more details, see our fact sheet Projected Economic Losses under ACA Repeal in California’s San Joaquin Valley and our statewide data brief California’s Projected Economic Losses under ACA Repeal.

County-specific fact sheets summarizing the health insurance and economic losses that would occur under ACA repeal are available for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, and other select counties from around the state.