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County Jobless Rate Continues to Drop to Levels Not Seen Since 2007

The employment picture continued to improve in May, as the county rebounds to levels not experienced since prior to the 2008 economic meltdown. This is according to information released last week by the State Employment Development Department.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent for Santa Barbara County in May, down from a revised 5.4 percent in April, and well below the year-ago estimate of 6.1 percent. This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 7.1 percent for California and 6.1 percent for the nation during the same period.

As we head into the summer, most of the job growth for the county came from agriculture, as it gained 1,800 new jobs. Nonfarm employment decreased by 200, as Professional and Business Services trimmed 400 positions and Leisure and Hospitality lost 100 jobs. Government saw an increase in the number of positions — gaining 200.

All local cities in Santa Barbara County continue to have single-digit unemployment numbers for the month of May. The City of Solvang had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the county with 1.8 percent unemployment; followed by Goleta at 2.4 percent, and Carpinteria and Santa Ynez both at 2.5 percent unemployment.

It should be noted that the county labor force grew by 500 job seekers, increasing from 225,400 in April to 225,900 in May.

While the number of people in the labor force increased, the number of jobless decreased. The City of Santa Maria went from 3,400 unemployed to 3,200, or 8 percent of its workforce. This is followed by the City of Santa Barbara with 2,000 residents or 3.5 percent, down from 2,200 residents unemployed or 3.8 percent. Lompoc is third with 1, 800 of its residents or 9.1 percent, down from 2,000 job seekers looking for employment last month or 9.7 percent. 

The county’s unemployment ranking in May, compared with the other 57 counties in California, positioned Santa Barbara County as the sixth lowest with Sonoma and San Luis Obispo County also at 5.0 percent unemployment.

Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board Director Raymond McDonald said, “Although we are reaching our peek employment season, countywide, due to the summer tourist trade, the fact that we are stringing together a series of low-unemployment months is very positive. What is important, now, is for the job gains to reflect livable wages for more of our residents.”

According to INJCJC, U.S. Initial Jobless Claims SA, the weekly initial jobless claim totals used to calculate local and federal UI (unemployment insurance) ratings is determined by  the actual number of people who have filed for Unemployment benefits for the first time in a given period. And the following five eligibility criteria must be met in order to file for Unemployment benefits: 1. meet the requirement of time worked during a one-year period (full time or not), 2. have become unemployed through no fault of your own (was not fired), 3. must be able to work, no physical or mental holdbacks, 4. must be available for work, and 5. must be actively seeking work.

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