H-SANTA MARIA

Jun 23, 2011 9:05 PM by Ariel Wesler

2010 Census data surprises local city leaders

The latest census results show Santa Maria's population grew faster than any other city in Santa Barbara County.

The city saw about a 29 percent population spike. The county's population jumped 6 percent from the year 2000 with 90 percent of that growth coming from Santa Maria.

So, what do all these numbers mean to you? Some of the data is even surprising city leaders, but it's not just the city that relies on this information for planning ahead. Businesses big and small do too. They depend on the demographics to better market their products and services to the right people.

Santa Maria has broken the 100,000 mark for population. In addition to the those numbers, the average age in the city is 28. Economic numbers from 2009 show the average individual income is roughly $16,000 a year. City leaders and analysts are now pouring through the data now to find out who makes up the community.

"The age median was one I was really off. I thought maybe around early 40s," said Santa Maria Councilwoman Alice Patino.

"We have a lot of our kids that are graduating and stuff and they actually have to go out of town to have something decent in their lives," said Richard Mejia of Santa Maria.

70 percent of the city is Hispanic. . .That's up 11 percent from about 10 years ago.

As for San Luis Obispo, it's a much different picture. The city only grew by about two percent. The average age is 23 and individual income, about $25,000.

The city wants to encourage economic development, but some city leaders say all the regulations in California make it even tougher to attract new businesses.

This is the largest increase for Santa Maria since the 1990 census, when the city grew by 55 percent and had about 62,000 people.

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