Our View: Jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs
Our View

Our View: Jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs

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You managed to survive the holidays, and now find yourself drifting at the start of a new year. Time to stop binge-watching “The Orville,” put on your best outfit and find a high-paying job.

A slacker’s worst nightmare, mostly because you have no idea where to start looking for that perfect fit.

Actually, the employment situation couldn’t be better, at least for some folks. The current jobless rate, 3.6 percent, hasn’t been this comforting since Richard Nixon was president, and U.S. employers have announced plans to increase hiring by nearly 6 percent in 2020.

Here’s a tip for local job-seekers: There are good, well-paying jobs to be had, just not enough of them to meet demand. That phase of the local employment picture is a work in progress, as North County business and government leaders work on strategies to attract the kinds of businesses and industries that pay the bigger bucks.

If you are the adventurist sort, the personal finance website WalletHub may have done you a favor by identifying the best cities for job-seekers, and also putting a finger on the worst places to look for a meaningful job.

Tops on the list of best places is Scottsdale, Arizona. But Central Coast job-seekers needn’t travel that far. San Francisco is No. 3 on the best list, and Fremont ranks fifth. Two Arizona cities — Chandler and Tempe in the Phoenix metroplex — are also in the top 10 cities for good jobs.

The problem with San Francisco is the cost of living, which is among the highest in the nation. That gives comparatively inexpensive Chandler and Tempe a big edge. Plus, those Arizona cities are becoming a magnet for high-tech industries. In fact, Chandler neighbor Gilbert, Arizona, has the highest median annual income adjusted for the cost of living in the country, at nearly $90,000 a year.

San Jose has the highest monthly starting salary, at just more than $6,000, but who wants to pay several thousand dollars a month rent for a studio apartment?

Unfortunately, but predictably, no city on the Central Coast was on the 180-city best-to-worst list. The closest were Bakersfield at No. 150 of 180, and Oxnard at No. 156.

This is yet another wakeup call for local decision-makers about the need to do something to fortify and strengthen the local economy. Too many North County residents are renters, in large part because housing costs here are huge, but also because there just are not enough of the kinds of jobs needed to meet this area’s cost-of-living demands.

One reason is education. There is a top-tier university in Santa Barbara — well, actually UCSB is in Goleta — but it’s a pricey choice. This region needs a truly cost-efficient, four-year-degree institution that can provide the training needed for grads to land those higher-paying jobs.

Allan Hancock College is trending in that direction, offering limited four-year-degree programs. The Hancock staff also does a standout job of helping associate-degree grads transition to four-year universities.

The common thread that weaves through those best-job cities on WalletHub’s list is the presence of one or more four-year colleges and universities. In San Francisco the magnets are Stanford and Cal-Berkeley. In the Phoenix area it’s Arizona State.

Hancock College could, and should be that educational engine that helps propel this region into a more dynamic economic future. The worst place for job-seekers? Detroit, which once was one of the best.

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