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Santa Cruz County’s labor force declining

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV) –Taking a look now into Santa Cruz County’s labor force as it continues to decline. 

The county pointing to multiple factors as to why employment isn't where it needs to be.

The data in the report shows that job quality within the county has worsened slightly over the last two years. Housing a major concern as the county tries to find ways to help the job market recover.

Santa Cruz County's state of the workforce report says multiple concerns are leading to the county's employment numbers lagging behind the state average.

Santa Cruz County experienced a 5.7% growth in employment from 2020 to 2023, while there was growth, the state average was 8.4%.

One is population, dropping 3% between 2015 and 2021.

The reason for that, it's simply too expensive to live in Santa Cruz County.

“I know that just being around UCSC that’s the property values and everything like that, it’s really high here so yeah it doesn’t surprise me," Paul Gerhardt from Santa Cruz said.

There has been a drop in the working age population, too. 

According to the county the population of people 65 and older is growing.

The younger population, meanwhile, is struggling to get by.

“Students saying that they found $3000 for rent for students that’s so crazy, I mean I go to Cabrillo college and there are housing for five people in like a two bedroom," Nathan Aguilar from Santa Cruz said.

Primary 25 to 54 population is declined the county over the last three or four years driven by the cost of housing," Josh Williams president of BW Research said.

The researchers behind the study say one possible solution is to find pathways to get offer more training for jobs that pay higher wages, but adding that more needs to be done.

Researchers say UCSC is a great institution but the question is when the students graduate will they be able to continue living there as the data shows the most expensive in the county. 

“We need to increase access to housing, especially affordable housing. change can be slow but it is coming, and we look forward to fulfilling our regional housing needs allocation along with other local jurisdictions so that we can begin to address this vitally important issue," Jason Hoppins Santa Cruz County PIO said.

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Briana Mathaw


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