May 4, 2010 12:16 AM by Monica Quintero
The latest unemployment figures and news of a big company closing in Santa Maria have many in the area worried more than ever about jobs.
New figures show Santa Maria now has a 15.3% unemployment rate. It's quite a bit higher than Santa Barbara County's unemployment rate, as of February 2010, of 9.9%. The latest unemployment rate for San Luis Obispo County is 10.6 percent.
Joseph Steward has been focused on finding a job but says it's been extremely challenging."Not good, not good. I'm here everyday during the week," he said. Steward is getting help at the Workforce Resource Center. "I'm kind of stressing. I need work. Unemployment is about to run out so I'm kind of hurting."
Dave Cross of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce says Santa Maria has been hit hard. Cross said there's a huge need for industrial jobs, as the UPS Call Center just gave 260 employees notices. "The UPS type of jobs that we lost, that's where we really need to develop our base. We're also working with the Santa Barbara County Energy Watch Program to develop awareness on the so called green jobs to try and get those revved up and going."
Construction has also been hit hard in the area. It's the type of job Steward is searching for. Steward said, "I go to building sites and they say show me your resume. Okay, if I can use you I'll give you a call and that's it." Steward has been looking for a job for a year and a half. He wants to stay here because of the nice weather and more importantly, because his family lives here.
Another Central Coast city with a high unemployment rate is the City of Lompoc. The latest figures there show it at 17.2 percent.
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