Wednesday, October 7 , 2015, 6:34 am | Fair 56º

Santa Barbara County Jobless Rate Falls to 6.3% in August

By Raymond McDonald for the Workforce Investment Board |

The unemployment rate for Santa Barbara County was 6.3 percent in August, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

This is down from a revised 6.7 percent in July, and below the year-ago estimate of 7.8 percent. This is compared with an unadjusted unemployment rate for California of 8.8 percent and 7.3 percent for the nation during the same period.

The county’s unemployment ranking compared with the other 57 counties in California was positioned as the sixth-lowest in the state, as Industry sectors in Santa Barbara remained relatively steady for the month of August with an increase of 300 jobs.

After a couple of months of continuous cuts, Government came back and gained 200 positions for the month. Trade, Transportation and Utilities also gained 200 jobs for the same period. Construction, Manufacturing, Professional and Business Services, and Leisure and Hospitality increased 100 positions each. Information was the only industry that trimmed jobs (100 for the month of August).

Between August 2012 and August 2013, total employment in Santa Barbara County rose by 3,000 jobs or 1.6 percent. Some of the highlights for this period included:

» Industries posting substantial gains over the year included: Private Service Providing — up 2.4 percent or 2,700 jobs; Professional & Business Services — up 8.4 percent or 2,100 jobs; Administrative and Support and Waste Services — up 13.3 percent or 1,600 positions; Construction — up 600 jobs or 8.8 percent.

» Other industries posting gains over the year included: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services — up 400 jobs or 3.5 percent; Health Care — up 500 jobs or 3.1 percent; Educational and Health Services — up 500 jobs or 2.3 percent; Health Care and Social Assistance — up 500 jobs or 2.6percent; Food Services and Drinking Places — up 300 jobs or 2 percent.

» Some of the Industries that lost jobs for this period of time included: Retail Trade, Accommodation, and the Federal Government with a loss of 200 jobs each.

“Even with the continued employee lay-offs from the Union Bank/Santa Barbara Bank & Trust merger (that the WIB is responding to with special state funding in collaboration with the local business community), Santa Barbara County will continue to have low unemployment in comparison with other counties," Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Raymond McDonald said. "Furthermore, we are optimist that the numbers will continue to get even better when four of our six WIB-indentified Industry Sectors of Opportunity—Healthcare; Energy & Environment; Building & Design; Technology & Innovation—begin to show expansion and new growth.

“Looking ‘below the headline’ what strikes me as significant is that in spite of our low unemployment numbers, the vast number of jobs continue to be in low-wage areas—which seems to support the recent County of Santa Barbara/Santa Barbara Foundation “Poverty Study” that found a large number of people who are living in poverty are also job-holders and wage-earners. It’s just that the wages they earn are not enough to support themselves and their families.”

Local cities also experienced a decrease in their unemployment. The City of Lompoc remains at the top of the list with an unemployment rate of 11.3 percent. Lompoc is followed by Guadalupe with 11 percent and Santa Maria with 10 percent.

— Raymond McDonald is executive director of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board.

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