6. Los Angeles County
> Pct. area with exceptional drought: 85.6%
> Metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
> Total population:10,170,292
> Pct. labor force employed in agriculture: 0.5%
While drought conditions in northern California have meaningfully improved in recent months due to a wet winter, much of the southern part of the state, including its largest city, remains in exceptional drought conditions. More than 85% of Los Angeles County is still experiencing the highest level of drought as measured by the USDA. Exceptional drought results in widespread crop and pasture loss as well as severe water shortages in reservoirs, streams, and wells. At least 80% of the county has been in a state of exceptional drought since July 2014.
5. San Luis Obispo County
> Pct. area with exceptional drought: 87.1%
> Metro area: San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande
> Total population: 281,401
> Pct. labor force employed in agriculture: 3.6%
Drought conditions have subsided slightly in San Luis Obispo County in the past few months. From mid-April 2014 through early March 2016, 99% or more of the county had experienced the highest possible drought levels. While this improved slightly to 87.1% exceptional drought coverage, it is still fifth worst drought stricken county — in the state and the country. San Luis Obispo is one of the largest wine-producing counties in state, and the area’s production has suffered due to the drought. The value of wine grapes produced in San Luis Obispo declined by $57.3 million, or 8%, in 2015.
4. Kings County
> Pct. area with exceptional drought: 94.0%
> Metro area: Hanford-Corcoran
> Total population:150,965
> Pct. labor force employed in agriculture: 16.2%
The vast majority of Kings County has been exceptionally dry for the past 28 straight months. As of May, the worst drought conditions cover all but 6% of the county’s area. Kings County is located in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, and like much of the valley, disproportionately relies on agriculture. Nationally, 2% of the labor force is employed in agriculture. In Kings County, 16.2% of the labor force is. Agricultural production throughout the valley took a serious hit last year, as hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland were left unplanted to conserve water.
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