By Kenneth Harwood

Solvang Chamber of Commerce


A few kinds of industries were leaders of real economic growth in Santa Barbara County in 2016. The chart shows the percentage of their contributions to change in our Gross Domestic Product.

Government services contributed 0.42 percent to the rate of real economic growth. Private education, health, and social assistance services contributed 0.28 percent. Durable goods manufacturing contributed 0.20 percent, and construction 0.15 percent.

Government included federal, state and local governments. Much of the output of government was local education, including kindergarten through higher education. Education, health, and social assistance included private services, usually through nonprofit organizations,

Durable manufacturing included goods having a probable life of three years or more, for example garden tools. Construction included residential, commercial and industrial structures.

Growth was the percent change from 2015 to 2016. Real rates of growth were percentage changes in dollars, less the yearly rate of inflation.

A way to measure yearly Gross Domestic Product of the nation, a state or a county is to add up the spending on consumption, investment, government outlays, and exports, less imports.

The graph shows that the first two leaders produced services, and the second two produced goods. Government contributed nearly three times more to positive growth rate than construction.

Some kinds of industries had negative growth rates. Their growth slowed instead of speeding up. An example was trade, including retail trade and wholesale trade, which had a negative growth rate of 0.25 percent.

Putting together all positive and negative growth rates, Santa Barbara County in 2016 had a negative growth rate of 0.70 percent. Ventura County had a negative growth rate of 2.70 percent, and San Luis Obispo County had a positive growth rate of 0.60 percent.  We were in the middle, geographically and in yearly rate of economic growth.

For details, go online to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, News Release BEA 17-48, Sept. 20, 2017, Table 3.