SLO and Santa Barbara county wages fall below national and state averages

July 11, 2022


While boasting some of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have average wages that fall well below the state and national averages.

Average weekly wages in the Central Coast are lower than in California overall and the United States. Industry wages in California, at $1,576 per week on average, were higher than the national weekly average of $1,251.

With an average weekly income of $1,071, workers in San Luis Obispo County make 67% of what the average California worker is paid. In Santa Barbara County, workers receive an average salary of $1,143 a week, or 72% of what the average Californian makes.

The differences can be partially attributed to the types of jobs available and wages in each county. Wages also vary between industries within counties.

“The differences between California and the Central Coast are at least partially attributable to the information sector’s greater share of employment and higher wages in the state overall, both industry and occupational,” according to the report. “This is especially visible in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties, where average weekly information sector wages were $9,878, $7,694, and $5,740, respectively, and accounted for 8% to 13.7% percent of employment in all three counties.

“By comparison Santa Barbara County had the highest average information wage and share of total employment in the region at $2,035 and 1.9%.”

Both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have thriving hospitality industries, which pay an average of approximately $715 a week.

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Not new info, really (have known for decades our wages lag — the employer-imposed privilege of living in “paradise” they used to have the nerve to say). Nice to have figures.

The relationship between wages and “housing affordability” is important. Our housing costs are high, our wages low. Employers could do a lot to close that gap.

Finally, some evidence to backup what I’ve been saying for 2 years.

It’s harder to rent and make a living in SLO county than it was in Missouri for me. At least gas and rent prices reflected the meager pay. Not here…

I plan on moving out of the area and to southern california come Fall. Sad because my family has been here for over 100 years but it’s not sustainable for a carpenter anymore.

Build something to live in, the homeless do it along the freeway. Did anyone in your family talk about investing? There is only one reason to leave the area, no one planned to stay and it only took 100 years, the indigenous people lasted much longer.

Very disconcerting. With how expensive “living the SLO life” is in general (assuming you’re not the homeless guy parked outside of the Marigold center watching people drive by for the last 2 years with your “borrowed” shopping cart) – What are the rest of us to do?

With some of the highest (if not the highest) gas prices in the nation) – Some of the highest rents in the nation and high grocery expenses- How exactly are regular working class folk supposed to exist on the Central Coast? Especially if the wages aren’t even at the state average? The math just doesn’t add up.

I had the misconception that wages were above the State average in SLO County, but if this data is correct, that isn’t the case, and this is alarming..

Unless something “gives” – rent, cost of groceries, gas, etc. regular blue collar people will not be around- and the service industries and agriculture won’t be around either.

Unless you are on the dole…. College Professors, The prison, city gov. Us in small business have not been able to get more out the cheap retired folk in Slo county in 10yrs. The new folks in town are just as cheap. They love all the progressive BS hindering small business until they want an ADU their backyard.

Small, rural county with very little industry. Not surprising. But guessing Adam Hill, Heidi Harmon and Bruce Gibson will be blamed.