Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 3:01 pm | A Few Clouds 60º



Monthly Jobless Rate Unchanged in Santa Barbara County, But Down from a Year Ago

County's number of employed ranks seventh statewide, which one industry professional says is 'a good sign' but lower than usual

Santa Barbara County’s unemployment rate improved in February by nearly 1 percent from a year ago, according to statewide data released Friday.

The county remained at an unadjusted 8.9 percent unemployment rate from January to February, but the figure is down from February 2011’s 9.7 percent rate, according to the state Employment Development Department. Local unemployment rates mirror statewide and national trends. California’s rate remained at 11.4 percent rate, as did the national rate of 8.7 percent.

“The job recovery process is working throughout the nation and within the county as we see pockets of growth and optimism in the labor market,” Raymond McDonald, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board, said in a news release.

“This optimism is supported by the increase in job advertising throughout the county for workforce members in key sectors that drive the local economy.”

Santa Barbara County has the seventh-lowest unemployment rate out of California’s 58 counties. Although the employed population has increased, the county usually ranks better than seventh, said Karen Dwyer, owner of Express Employment Professionals.

“When the economy turned, we saw the overall population dwindle as people lost jobs and left town,” she said. “But now we’re seeing employment come back. That’s a good sign, but one thing to note is that we did drop in terms of rankings in counties in California. (Santa Barbara) has typically been three or four.”

From this time last year, there has been an upward employment swing in farming, to 14,900 workers from 12,800; professional and business services, to 25,500 from 23,700; and government, to 39,700 from 38,700. There has been an employed workforce decrease in construction, to 6,400 from 6,600; trade, transportation and utilities, to 23,600 from 24,000; and leisure and hospitality, to 20,900 from 21,400.

But overall, Dwyer said, local jobs are gradually coming back.

“I expect the economy to continue to grow at a slow pace, but all numbers are indicating that it’s growing,” she said.

While the city of Santa Barbara claims a 6.3 percent unemployment rate, other regions within the county are not faring as well. Lompoc has a 15.5 percent unemployment rate, Guadalupe is at 15.1 percent, Santa Maria is at 13.8 percent and Orcutt is at 9.9 percent.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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