Merced County Times Newspaper
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Publisher’s Predictions For Year 2024

John Derby
Times Publisher John Derby

As we look into the crystal ball of the future, we see many things for our valley, and they include major battles on the political front, all while two candidates for president of the nation go head to head.

War will make the headlines, and the cost of living will continue to increase.

California will continue to lead the way in taxes, and the price of gas.

The state will also lead the way in the cost of food, and this will be surprising for local residents, because there is no other state in the union which produces more food for the country than California.

There will be worker strikes because people are not paid enough to keep up with the cost of living. Unions will make this a reason to show their employees need more money to survive. Meanwhile, the state’s reaction to keep raising the minimum wage will continue to squeeze the small business community.

Another big problem is there are just not enough workers. After the covid pandemic, the work force shrunk, but many of those who stopped working have decided it is not necessary to work to live.

The number of people working from home will continue to increase as the costs of going to an office will become an unnecessary expense. The only reason many office employees are asked to go to work is because they are not trusted by management to actually do the work for which they are assigned. However, there are many honest at-home workers, and besides, more technology is on the way to track if a person is working or not. Unfortunately, this will become like a chain around the neck for some of these home workers, and for some, it might just be unbearable.

Over time, expect a loss in people-to-people skills, but there will be a gain in parenting skills as more mothers and fathers spend more time with their own children.

The trend of people moving out of the cities and into more rural areas will continue because of crime in urban areas. Local law enforcement will continue to be impacted, as will fire departments, and once again, there will not be enough people to go into public safety work. Maintaining public safety staffing levels will be a critical issue for Merced and nearby towns and communities.

Crime will will increase as more and more young people will face greater and greater challenges to finding honest work.

Obtaining a good education at all local school levels will continue to be a major factor in the lives of our young people.

Jobs for basic services — like plumbing and electrical — will become more important, and will continue to pay more.

The housing market will grow once the Fed allows the interest rate to come down. When it does, that will bring more jobs for the market to fill. A boom is on the horizon for the housing market, but the question remains: Will new housing starts make buying a house an affordable reality for the average family in this region?

“Affordable housing” will continue to be an illusion. There will continue to be achievers, and there will be non-achievers. As it is today.

There will be no end to the homelessness we see on the streets of valley towns.

It’s another year, and we still don’t see many clear solutions to the idea of the rich getting richer while the poor remain poor.

Maybe that’s the way it will always be, no matter what.

The bright star is that we will survive.

May God be part of the solution for everyone, and may 2024 be a better year for everyone.