The data show that in June alone, the city collected more than $1.4 million, an increase of 11 percent over the same month last year. June saw two more weekend days than last year, which, along with mild weather, most likely contributed to the growth.
“I think we are seeing the increase of business for a variety of different reasons,” said Kathy Janega-Dykes of the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission. “We have expanded our marketing outreach and are now able to reach more visitors to promote Santa Barbara as a destination. People feel more optimistic about the economy, though they are staying closer to home when they travel and that benefits Santa Barbara significantly, particularly those coming from L.A.”
As the tourism and hospitality industries profit, however, unemployment in Santa Barbara County has risen from 7.4 percent to 7.9 percent.
The impact has weighed most heavily on the public sector, with jobs in education, health services and government being hardest hit, according to the latest figures, while leisure, trade, transportation and utilities have experienced moderate to slow growth.
“We continue to see the trend of improvement over the same period from the previous year, which is a silver lining,” said Raymond McDonald, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board. “We never want to see an increase in the unemployment numbers, even a half of a percentage point. With that said, government job loss, which posted a decrease for the month, has been a trend we’ve seen as local municipalities struggle with budget constraints.”
The local numbers still fall well below the state unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, as well as the national average of 8.2 percent, which experienced little change from last month’s report.