Droughts Don't Kill Jobs. People Do

The House Natural Resources Committee has been [trying for a little while](http://naturalresources.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=5921) to pin environmentalists with responsibility for the man-made drought in California. How can a drought be man-made? In this case, irrigation to the state's Central Valley was scaled back after environmentalists argued successfully in court that diverting the water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta was killing endangered fish. The man-made drought is simply the Valley dealing with its natural water supply, or lack thereof.

Central Valley residents have been bemoaning their fate -- in particular, the lack of jobs in the area, which they blame on the drought. And they found a sympathetic ear in the House Republicans. But [a new report](http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/farm-jobs-lost-blame-environme...) from the Pacific Institute says that it's not the man-made drought, but the man-made economic decisions that have hurt rural communities the most. Agricultural jobs remained a stable portion of the employment pool, [according to the report](http://www.pacinst.org/reports/california_drought_impacts/), and farm income actually rose. The area's unemployment was primarily driven by problems in a different sector -- construction, where jobs declined from 2003 to 2009. The problem here had nothing to do with water shortages: in the early 2000s, new development was growing in the rural area, and as a building boom died off, so did employment.