Local News

Apr 23, 2010 12:06 AM by Monica Quintero

Mixed economic outlook for Santa Barbara County

The economy is still the focus for many Central Coast residents and on Thursday, Santa Barbara County's Economic Outlook for 2010 was released.

The economic forecast project is conducted by UC Santa Barbara. Among the findings-- despite going into the recession later than neighboring counties, the County will rise out of the downturn at the same time as its surrounding counties.

It also addressed jobs. The report states employment losses started later as well. In late 2009, the number of unemployed Santa Barbara County residents grew by more than 12,000.

As far as construction, the report states it will be a relatively flat year and that the sector will only lose a few hundred more jobs by late fall.

Jerry Bunin, Home Builders Association of the Central Coast, said, "Some of the contributing factors that are making it negative is we believe there's still a wave of foreclosures that are coming through.

Santa Barbara County has a large number of mortgages underwater. Meaning that more properties in the county are worth less that what is owed on them. In fact, it's nearly 28 percent. Compare that to Ventura County at 25.8-percent and San Luis Obispo County at 16.6-percent. Jim Stollberg, Maverick Farming Company, said, "We're in a soft market now, we're over producing." The forecast also states there are not enough wineries that place the name - Santa Barbara County on the wine bottle label. Stollberg said, "A big piece of that is because we have a lot of large growers here." It suggests this needs to be done to promote the area and support a price structure that can sustain the costs of growing grapes.

The report also addressed foreclosures in Santa Barbara County. During January of 2010, they accounted for nearly one-third of existing home sales and was even higher in the cities of Lompoc and Santa Maria. Here's some good news from that report. It states area is more than just a tourist destination and that Santa Barbara County enjoys a strong employment base, with more than 160,000 employees.

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