The unemployment rate in Santa Barbara County remained steady at 8.9 percent between January and February. The number — released last week by the state’s Employment Development Department — is lower than the 9.7 percent rate for the same period a year ago.

The county’s current figure is the seventh lowest in California, which reported an overall 10.9 percent unemployment rate, compared to 12 percent for the same period last year.

According to the county’s Workforce Investment Board — a federally created public/private partnership run by Santa Barbara County that helps businesses and laid-off workers — the county saw numbers improve in the areas of leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation, and utilities.

“The job recovery process is working throughout the nation and within the county as we see pockets of growth and optimism in the labor market,” said Raymond McDonald, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board. “This optimism is supported by the increase in job advertising throughout the county for workforce members in key sectors that drive the local economy.”

Pulling overall county figures down are high unemployment rates in Lompoc (15.5 percent), Guadalupe (15.1 percent), and Santa Maria (13.8 percent).


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