Money and Business

Unemployment rate down in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo Counties

Unemployment rate down in Santa...

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Unemployment rates are down in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

The unemployment rate is down to 4% in Santa Barbara county and down to 3.3% in San Luis Obispo county.

In San Luis Obispo county, it's the lowest number they've seen since 2001.

Some counties are still seeing staggeringly high unemployment numbers though in California - Imperial County sits at nearly 20%.

"It's been pretty difficult," Orcutt resident Kunico Nishiki said.

Kunico Nishiki knows all about the struggles of job searching.

"I've been looking for about a year now," Nishiki said.

Monday afternoon, on a recommendation from her art teacher, she was painting some window art at the Chamber of Commerce office in Santa Maria.

"So I can make a few bucks," Nishiki said.

But it's permanent work that she's been looking for - just like the 4 percent of people who are also unemployed here in Santa Barbara County. 

"I've applied to quite a few actually but I haven't been hired, I think it's really difficult when you haven't had a job yet, so everything that I'd done is like side art stuff like this," Nishiki said.

Despite Nishiki's struggles, there are about 3,500 more jobs in Santa Barbara county than last year at this time.
Glenn Morris with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce says the immediate future looks bright in the area.

"You know it's never as good as you want it but it's getting better," Glenn Morris with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce said. 

Morris says unemployment is a little more than 5 percent in Santa Maria.

"People are going back to work, businesses are opening up a little bit," Morris said. 

The worst unemployment number in the county in recent years was back in 2010 when it hit nearly 11 percent during the recession. The lowest happened in 1999 when it hovered just over 3 percent. 

Retail has been a big source of growth lately in Santa Maria because of the Enos Ranch development.

"Obviously the ag seasonal stuff that comes and goes with the crops," Morris said. 

Morris says they're also starting to see some light manufacturing growth that tend to be better paying jobs.

"We've had some reported layoffs in the industrial area, some of the businesses kind of right size their operations," Morris said. 

Morris says North County is more diversified than South County and that there's more manufacturing jobs in Santa Maria.

"Generally we've seen more growth than shrinkage and that's the trend we want to continue," Morris said. 

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