Strong September Employment Report Shows Continued Growth

by Brian Thomas and Noah Newman | Nov 2, 2016

Santa Barbara County experienced solid employment growth in September, with civilian employment increasing by 875 (0.4%), from 212,192 to 213,067. If this growth were to continue over next year, this would represent an annual growth rate of 4.9%. This is the second largest employment gain in the past 6 months, only trailing July when employment increased by 2,079. The number unemployed also increased in September by 2.3% from 11,005 to 11,259. While unemployment outgrew employment in percentage terms, strong recent growth in the labor force of 2.2% over the past year has held the unemployment rate steady at 5.0%. Growth in nonfarm payrolls has also mirrored civilian employment growth, up 0.4% in September for a gain of 653.


While strong employment growth in September represents just one data point, growth has been strong over the past year. After revisions, the 2015 year-over-year employment growth was adjusted to a mere 1.3%. This year’s initial year-over-year growth rate figure is 2.1%. This is the fastest year-over-year growth rate since 2012. Nonfarm payrolls also grew 2.1% since September 2015, the fourth year out of the past five with growth above 2.0%. These strong annual growth rates are suggestive of healthy labor markets in Santa Barbara County.


September’s industry-specific numbers also look strong. Eight of the twelve 2-digit industry groups had employment gains in September, led by the information industry, which increased employment by 2.9% on the month. This expands on information’s 7.2% employment gain on the year. However, because the information industry is small in Santa Barbara County, with an employment share of only 2.2%, these gains don’t have a large impact on the aggregate county numbers. Rather, the majority of employment gains for the month can be attributed to government and education and health services, which make up 19.5% and 13.0% of employment, respectively. These two industries saw monthly employment gains of 1.1% and 0.8%, respectively. Leisure and hospitality, which has seen incredible growth over the past few years, averaging an annual growth rate of 5.1% since 2012, continued growing in September. As of the latest data, employment in leisure and hospitality grew by 5.6% on the year.


Professional & Business Services, Total Farm, Goods Producing, and Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities all experienced negative employment growth in September. While these industries represent a fairly large portion of Santa Barbara County employment, at around 30%, their declines are small, with losses between 0.1% and 0.6%. Good producing industries and transportation, warehousing, and utilities have had employment gains over the past year, while professional and business services and total farm join other services as the only three industry groups with declines over the past year, at 0.8%, 0.3%, and 0.2%, respectively.