Employment Gains Continue in December

by Brian Thomas and Jeremy Levine | Jan 31, 2017

Employment in Santa Barbara County continues to grow at a steady rate.  The latest employment data from the California Employment Development Department (EDD) shows continued improvement in nonfarm payrolls, with nonfarm payrolls growing by 0.4% in December.  The unemployment rate remained below 5%, hovering around its lowest level since 2008, and continues its trend downward.  


The strength of Santa Barbara County's labor market is on par with the overall state.  Santa Barbara's unemployment rate (4.8%) is slightly below California's rate (5.2%).  Moreover, California's current nonfarm payroll annual growth rate is 2.0%, just under the 2.9% seen locally.  Compared to other counties in the state, Santa Barbara's labor markets are strong.  The maps below show nonfarm payroll growth and unemployment rates across all counties in California.  Santa Barbara has the 16th lowest unemployment rate and the 19th highest nonfarm payroll gains across California's 58 counties.  For the most part, coastal counties have relatively strong labor markets, with the healthiest labor markets occuring in the San Francisco Bay area.  The San Joaquin Valley has relatively high unemployment rates compared to there rest of the state.  Just about every county has had employment gains in the past year.  Just seven counties have had nonfarm payroll declines, of which only three have declines of more than 1%.  


Within the county, employment growth in December was mixed across industries.  Of the twelve 2-digit industries, six had employment gains, four had employment losses, and two held constant. Goods producing and leisure and hospitality, which collectively make up 25.2% of the county’s employment, grew at the highest rates, 1.5% and 1.1% respectively. Leisure and hospitality continues a growth streak since 2012, with 9.2% growth over the past year. Smaller sectors, such as Financial activities and transportation, warehouses and utilities (collectively 4.8% of employment) shrunk the most, at 0.6% and 1.0% respectively. Total farm, which held constant over the month, has decreased the most over the year, at 2.1%. Professional and business services was the only other sector to shrink over the year, while government, leisure and hospitality, education and health services, and goods producing—Santa Barbara County’s four largest sectors—all saw significant employment increases.