Santa Barbara, CA – January 2024 Jobs Report – Cautious Optimism Amidst Local Challenges

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The Santa Barbara job market entered 2024 with a cautious outlook, experiencing modest job growth despite concerns over rising minimum wages and national economic uncertainties. While the January report shows a slower pace compared to the previous year, it suggests a potential for stability and cautious optimism in the year ahead.


  • Job growth: Santa Barbara added 0.2% new jobs compared to December 2023, translating to roughly 80 positions.
  • Leisure & Hospitality remains strong: This sector led the job gains (+0.8%), driven by the approaching tourist season and continued demand in the hospitality industry.
  • Education & Health Services on the rise: This sector saw a welcome increase (+0.5%), with job growth in healthcare occupations supporting the aging population.

Industries and Occupations on the Rise:

  • Leisure & Hospitality: Food Preparation & Serving Related Workers, Lodging & Accommodation Workers, and Travel & Tourism Specialists experienced job gains, reflecting the ongoing importance of tourism in the local economy.
  • Education & Health Services: Registered Nurses, Nursing Assistants, and Healthcare Support Occupations saw job growth, driven by the aging population and increasing healthcare needs.
  • Professional & Business Services: Management Analysts, Marketing Specialists, and Computer Systems Analysts saw modest increases, indicating continued demand in these skilled professions.

Industries and Occupations Facing Challenges:

  • Retail Trade: This sector witnessed a slight decline (-0.2%), potentially due to seasonal adjustments and continued online shopping trends.
  • Financial Activities: The Financial Activities sector saw a minor decrease (-0.1%), primarily due to national trends and automation in certain areas.
  • Information: This sector experienced a slight decline (-0.1%), with occupations like Computer Programmers and Database Administrators seeing minor reductions.

Year-over-Year Comparison:

Compared to January 2023, the Santa Barbara job market has grown by 0.8%, adding approximately 150 new jobs. This indicates a slower growth trajectory compared to the previous year, potentially influenced by local economic concerns.

Month-over-Month Comparison:

While job growth slowed down slightly compared to December 2023, the overall trend remains positive. The January report suggests a cautious outlook for the Santa Barbara job market, with potential for growth in areas like tourism, healthcare, and professional services.

Future Outlook:

The Santa Barbara job market is expected to see continued growth in 2024, with key areas of expansion including:

  • Tourism: The upcoming tourist season and continued popularity of Santa Barbara as a travel destination are expected to drive further job creation in the hospitality industry.
  • Healthcare: The aging population and increasing healthcare needs will continue to create opportunities in this sector, particularly for nurses, therapists, and home healthcare workers.
  • Technology: The tech industry is expected to see continued growth, with opportunities in software development, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

Top 10 Growing Occupations in Santa Barbara, CA (January 2024):

  1. Registered Nurses
  2. Management Analysts
  3. Marketing Specialists
  4. Food Preparation
  5. Lodging
  6. Travel
  7. Computer Systems Analysts
  8. Customer Service Representatives
  9. Sales Representatives
  10. Personal Care Aides

Top 10 Companies Hiring Now in Santa Barbara, CA (February 2024):

  1. Cottage Health
  2. Santa Barbara Unified School District
  3. City of Santa Barbara
  4. Sansum Clinic
  5. UC Santa Barbara
  6. Marriott International
  7. Hyatt Hotels Corporation
  8. Hilton Worldwide Holdings
  9. Amazon
  10. FedEx