Labor market statistics for Santa Barbara County show the trend in declining unemployment is continuing, with the percent of those without a job in October roughly equal to the rate in January 2020, just two months before the COVID-19 pandemic sent it soaring.

Four North County communities reportedly had no one unemployed, but Santa Maria accounted for nearly a third of all the county’s 9,900 unemployed workers, according to the state’s preliminary figures for October.

California Employment Development Department’s Labor Market Information Division put the county’s preliminary October unemployment rate at 4.5%, slightly lower than the adjusted rate of 4.6% for September.

That’s also down from the most recent high point of about 6% in June and more than 2 points less than the 6.6% rate in October 2020.

By comparison, California’s statewide preliminary rate was 6.1% in October, with the adjusted September rate set at 6.6%. The October 2020 statewide rate was 9.3%.

San Luis Obispo County’s preliminary unemployment rate for October was 4.3%, with 5,700 individuals reportedly looking for work.

Government saw Santa Barbara County’s biggest one-month increase in employment by industry sector, picking up 1,000 jobs in October, followed by professional and business services with 600 and educational and health services with 200, according to the Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County.

The farm sector recorded the greatest one-month loss of jobs at 2,200, the Workforce Development Board said. Other sectors that lost jobs from September to October were leisure and hospitality with 200 and manufacturing with 100.

Buellton, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Vandenberg Space Force Base led the North County’s communities with zero people unemployed. Guadalupe and Solvang were each listed with 100 individuals out of work.

Santa Maria had the most unemployed, with 3,000 people looking for work, according to the state figures.

The number of unemployed in other North County communities included 200 in Vandenberg Village, 800 in Orcutt and 1,200 in Lompoc.

The Labor Market Information Division noted the unemployment figures for California and its counties do not include individuals who have given up on finding employment, although those people are counted at the federal level.

Recent data show that including those “nonparticipants” adds about 1 percentage point to unemployment numbers, a division spokesman said.

Veterans snapshot

EDD’s Labor Market Information Division also released the latest edition of the 2021 Economic Summary, a two-page snapshot of total employment by industry and online help-wanted ads by companies, industry sectors and communities.

In recognition of Veterans Day, the November summary includes a snapshot of veterans in the county, based on five-year averages, taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2019.

Among other things, the summary shows the vast majority of the county’s veterans ages 18 to 64 are employed, with only 4% unemployed, and compares the veterans population in this county with those of San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

In most of the counties, a little more than half the veterans are age 65 and older, with the exception of Santa Cruz County, where nearly two-thirds of the veterans are 65 and older.

In addition, the summary shows 90.9% of Santa Barbara County’s veterans are men.

The summary also compared Santa Barbara County’s August and September unemployment rates with those of San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, as well as the state and the nation.

Santa Barbara County was on the low end among counties, with exactly the same 5.8% rate as SLO County in August and virtually the same in September at 4.7% and 4.6%, respectively.

Monterey County was highest with 6.4% in August and 5.7% in September, with the statewide rate highest overall at 7.5% and 6.4%, respectively. The nationwide rate was lowest overall at 5.3% and 4.6% for the two months.

The summary showed most of the county’s September employment ads on Help Wanted OnLine came from Santa Barbara with 4,992, followed by Santa Maria with 2,571, Goleta with 1,151 and Lompoc with 890.

Leading the list by occupation were positions for retail salespeople, followed by registered nurses, first-line retail sales supervisors and customer service representatives.

Companies posting the most help-wanted ads were Dignity Health, Raytheon, University of California and Cottage Health System, in that order, according to the summary.

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