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Business

Santa Barbara County Unemployment Inches Up in July

Unemployment rose slightly in Santa Barbara County last month, although the percentage of jobless residents was a full point lower than a year ago.

The county unemployment rate was 6 percent in July, up from a revised 5.4 percent in June, according to data released last week by the State Employment Development Department.

That 6 percent is the highest rate since March, when the county posted 6.7 percent.

The most recent rankings show the county is faring better than others across the state, however. California had an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent for the same period, with a national rate of 6.5 percent.

Statewide, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties were tied with the eighth lowest unemployment rate, trailing a first-place finish by Marin County of 4.4 percent.

A year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was 7 percent, meaning 2,000 jobs were added countywide since last July.

All cities saw slight increases in unemployment last month except Solvang, which was down 2.2 percent, according to the data.

Santa Maria continued to lead the county with the most unemployed residents at 3,800, with Santa Barbara (2,400) and Lompoc (2,200) rounding out the top three.

Santa Barbara was down by 4,000 jobs since June, with the largest losses going to government — 2,800 eliminated positions — and agriculture-related jobs, which declined by 1,000 nearing the end of growing season.

Professional and business services sectors lost 300 jobs and educational and health services industries employment decreased by 100 jobs. 

“Overall, our county continues to fare better than many of the 57 other counties and our targeted industry sectors are performing well,” Workforce Investment Board of Santa Barbara County Executive Director Raymond McDonald said in a statement.

“My takeaway from today’s report is that the government sector — that includes seasonal layoffs in education — is being reflected in the slight tick up of our countywide unemployment.”

The seasonal leisure and hospitality sector, construction and manufacturing continued to see increases in job creation — all logging 100 new positions since June.

WIB also identified health care, energy and environment, building and design, technology and innovation and tourism and wineries as areas of employment opportunity.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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