More Young, Educated People Flocking to Santa Barbara

Younger, more educated people are coming to Santa Barbara since the end of the recession, which has helped make the region “vibrant and growing,” a UCSB economist said Sept. 26. 

That data is contained in the 2017 Community Indicator Project, which was presented at the Santa Barbara County Hall of Administration during a community gathering. 

Peter Rupert, head of the UCSB Economic Forecast, told a crowd of about 80 people that the county’s population has grown to about half a million, with 60 percent of that number Hispanic. He said More foreign immigrants with higher levels of education are moving into the region. 

The people who have been leaving since the recession a less educated than those coming in, Rupert said. 

The data shows that government still is the county’s biggest employer with 20 percent of the workforce. Rupert sounded surprised when he said data shows the information industry is one of the smallest in the region. Perhaps this is because of shrinking traditional media and advance of social media as a way many people get their information. 

Rupert also seemed surprised when he noted it appears no growth has occurred in the region’s financial services sector since 2010. 

The economist painted a rosy picture of the region, saying energy use is down, air quality has improved greatly since 1990, violent crime has decreased and beaches are cleaner. On the other hand, he said, pesticide use is up and fewer people are riding public transit. 

“67 percent of the commuters in the county drive cars to work,” Rupert said. 

Also speaking at the gathering was Bhupi Singh, chief executive officer of the Goleta-based nonprofit Direct Relief, which is sending emergency aid to five disaster areas including Texas, Florida, Mexico and Puerto Rico. 

He noted that Santa Barbara has twice the number of nonprofit organizations per capita than any other U.S. city. Direct Relief has about $1.2 billion in revenue, Singh said.

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