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Santa Barbara County Jobless Rate Drops in February

Santa Barbara County’s jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent in February, a trend shared by the state, as California’s unemployment dropped to 9.6 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Employment Development Department.

Santa Barbara County decreased from 8.4 percent in January, and remains below the statewide average.

Every city within Santa Barbara County saw its unemployment rate decrease as well. The North County cities still have higher rates, with Santa Maria at 12 percent and Lompoc at 13.5 percent. Guadalupe still has one of the highest rates of joblessness, at 13.1 percent.

In the South County, Santa Barbara had 5.4 percent unemployment in February, compared with Goleta and Carpinteria’s 3.8 percent, and Solvang’s 2.9 percent.

There were the most jobs added in government, next with leisure and hospitality, and educational and health services.

“The February unemployment numbers appear to have restored the losses that were reported in January — suggesting that January’s spike in unemployment was an anomaly,” said Raymond McDonald, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board. “Although Santa Barbara County has a somewhat diversified economy, what continues to be lacking is a well-thought out economic strategy, that will allow business leaders to have a sense of confidence that the community not only understands the growth areas — but has agreed on, as a plan to support these areas.”

For February, San Luis Obispo County had a 7 percent unemployment rate and Ventura County had an 8.1 percent unemployment rate, according to the EDD.

State unemployment decreased from January and was 10.8 percent in February 2012.

Statewide, there was a net gain of 41,200 jobs since the January survey, according to the EDD, with the largest increase in the leisure and hospitality industry.

There were also jobs added in the construction, information, financial activities, professional and business services industries and government.

Santa Barbara County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Others with rates below 8 percent include: Marin, Napa, Orange, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, according to the preliminary monthly labor force data.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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