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Business

Santa Barbara County Jobless Rate Drops to 5.6%

The unemployment rate for Santa Barbara County decreased to 5.6 percent in May, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

This is down from a revised 6 percent in April and below the year-ago estimate of 7.5 percent. This is compared with an unadjusted unemployment rate for California of 8.1 percent and 7.3 percent for the nation during the same period.

Industry sectors in Santa Barbara gained 300 more jobs than last month, for a total of 3,500 jobs for May. The industry with the most amount of job growth included leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services with 300 jobs each. Trade, transportation and utilities, and government were second with 200 jobs. Educational and health services was third with 100 positions. Other industries such as mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, information, and financial activities remained unchanged.

Between May 2012 and May 2013, total employment in Santa Barbara County rose by 3,800 jobs or 2 percent. Some of the highlights for this period included:

» Industries posting substantial gains over the year included: Service providing (up 2.2 percent or 3,300 jobs), private service providing (up 2.9 percent or 3,200 jobs), professional and business services (up 8 percent or 2,000 positions), administrative, support and waste services (up 12.6 percent or 1,500 jobs).

» Educational and health services (up 3.7 percent or 800 positions), health care and social asistance (up 3.7 percent or 700 positions) and health care (up 3.8 percent or 600 jobs).

» State government and state government education increased by 500 jobs each; on the other hand, federal government and local government each lost 200 for this period.

» Other industries posting substantial gains over the year included: construction with 500 jobs or 7.6 percent, goods producing with 2.5 percent or 500 positions, professional, scientific and technical services with 400 jobs or 3.5 percent, and wholesale trade with 200 jobs or 4.8 percent.

“My first reaction is ‘Wow!’ I really wasn’t expecting this,” Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Raymond McDonald said. “We usually get a seasonal boost in hospitality-related employment beginning in May, but the fact that the other sectors are holding — and business services continues its uptick — are very encouraging news. The last time we had an unemployment rate in the five-percent range was back in October of 2008 when we were at 5.8 percent.”

In our local cities, Guadalupe joined the cities with single-digit unemployment, falling from 10.4 percent in April to 9.7 percentin May. This leaves Lompoc as the only city in the county with double-digit unemployment (which was 10 percent for the month). Santa Maria finished the month with 8.8 percent. Other cities in the county continue to show healthy economies; behind Santa Maria was Buellton with 4 percent and Santa Barbara with 3.9 percent.

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