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Santa Monica Ranks Tops for Social Life, But Scores Low on Jobs and Affordability in New Study

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 22, 2015 --Trendy as ever, Santa Monica is tops if you want to relax at a neighborhood café or hit the city’s hot spots at night, a new study finds.

But the city’s job market and other aspects of life, such as finding affordable housing, does not fare nearly so well in the analysis released Wednesday.

In fact, Santa Monica received a below-average ranking for its job market in the analysis of 250 of California’s most populated cities conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance website.

For the “2015 Best and Worst California Cities for Finding a Job” study, Santa Monica placed 147th for its job market, said study analyst Jill Gonzalez, and 114th for finding a job.

The best place to find a job was Palo Alto, home to a booming high-tech industry, a large number of job opportunities and high starting salaries. It is also one of the wealthiest and best-educated cities in California, according to the 2010 census.

Rounding out the rest of the top ten cities for finding a job, by ranking, were Pacifica, Rancho Santa Margarita, Campbell, Menlo Park, San Rafael, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Lake Forest and Livermove.

Santa Monica’s low job-market ranking was “due to the high percentage of unemployed high school graduates at 15.7 percent,” placing it at 134th, Gonzalez said.

More bad news was the high rate of unemployed among those with bachelor’s degree or those holding higher degrees, at 6.6 percent, placing 172th of all cities included.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people living under the poverty line but actually employed was slightly above average at 5.59 percent, giving Santa Monica a ranking of 109.  The city also ranked fairly low at 118 for the percentage of persons with disabilities who were in the workforce, she said.

Still, Santa Monica came out on top when it came to the study’s “social life metric” for being home to the “highest number of both cafes and nightlife options per capita," Gonzalez said.

And the city’s “socioeconomic environment” also earned a stronger ranking of 54th, thanks to the 86.4 percent of employees with private health insurance, ranking Santa Monica 38th best in the state, Gonzalez said.

WalletHub conducts a wide variety of studies on everything from jobs to credit cards, health, the environment, ethnicity and race and even best and worst lists of “foodie cities.”

To determine the best California cities for getting jobs, Gonzalez said WalletHub analysts compared 16 key characteristics in the locales included, ranging from monthly median starting salary to employment growth to housing and transportation costs.

Santa Monica’s rankings were hurt by its scarcity of affordable housing and its median annual income, which the report did not list. However, the city ranked 223rd in those two categories, as well as 246th for time spent working and commuting.

The goal of the analysis is to help California residents and inbound migrants find the best cities for employment, officials said.

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