Central Coast Unemployment Rates Fall

Latest numbers show local jobless rate at 5%.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Many of the jobs being created right now on the Central Coast are in the service-related industries with most paying minimum wage or slightly more at ten dollars an hour.

"Minimum wage does not cut it, I tell you right now", says Frank Scherrer who's hoping his commercial driver's license will land him a good paying truck driving job he needs to support his family.

"You go wherever and you make ten dollars an hour, well you better have two more people in your household making ten dollars an hour, or you ain't going to make it", Scherrer says, "for someone my age its difficult, I figure a truck driver would be a good thing because of my age, and then the truck market job thing, there's a whole lot of jobs out there and so I knew I wouldn't be wasting my time looking."

"I was a stay at home mom but now we need more money so I've been looking for about six months now", says Noemi Uribe who is trying to find a full-time customer service job that pays more than minimum wage, "minimum wage with kids, its not enough money and sometimes they don't even give you enough hours and its not worth it"

Uribe, who's bi-lingual in English and Spanish, says she's considering going back to school to learn the skills needed to qualify for the jobs she's looking for.

"Either I don't qualify or the positions have been filled, it's hard", Uribe says, "the employers are looking for people who are qualified and have experience in that job field and also they don't want to train people."

The latest unemployment rates on the Central Coast from the state Economic Development Department show Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties at 5 percent,  compared to well over 7 percent statewide and 6.3 percent nationally.

The EDD data show the largest local job gains in the past year have been in professional and business services, education and health services.

The largest job losses were in leisure and hospitality, construction, and financial activities, according to the EDD data.

Those working behind the scenes in local economic development know the better-paying jobs are in manufacturing, energy exploration and development and health services.

"Retail has increased, agriculture is steady, but we also need those manufacturing positions", says Dave Cross with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Commission, "those are generally higher paying jobs so we really want to promote those."

Cross spends his time promoting and preserving Santa Maria Valley's strong manufacturing industry as well as the area becoming a hub for a growing regional oil and gas industry.

"It's been a slow, steady improvement", Cross says, "we still have a lot of people who don't have jobs right now so we really have to work on that."

Cross points to a collaborative effort between the EDC, local industry and those in education to prepare local workers with the skills needed for jobs available today and in the future.

"One of the things we're doing now is solidifying that connection between manufacturers and education, so they can build those curriculum to get our workforce trained", Cross says.

"Hiring Now" or "Now Hiring" signs are going up across the Central Coast, a sign of the times in a slowly improving economy with a still weak job market.

"Even if you are full time you are not going to make it on ten bucks an hour", Frank Scherrer says, "look at what your average rent is plus gas, food, utilities, and then if you've got kids, you ain't gonna make it."

A fact of life Noemi Uribe knows all too well having spent another morning looking for a good paying job at the Workforce Resource Center in Santa Maria.

"My husband has a job for ten dollars an hour and we still don't make it", a frustrated Uribe says, "we don't make it."

To contact Frank Scherrer about a job opening:

To contact Noemi Uribe about a job opening:


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