NEW TIMES: What is the job market like in SLO County?
AGUILAR: Well, here are some facts: In SLO County there are roughly 100,000 working jobs. Of those, 22,100 are government jobs, 19,500 are utility jobs. Then there are about 15,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality. In addition, there are 11,600 quasi-government jobs like education and health care. And another category is professional and business services… As you can see, most jobs are in these five categories. Its important that people notice that government seems to be a very important category in this county. The average salary in this county is $41,400, while the average in the state is $48,000, so our salaries are about 16 percent lower than across the state.
NEW TIMES: How many people are looking for work in the county?
AGUILAR: Well, the nation’s unemployment rate is at 9.8 percent and in SLO County, we’re at 9.4 percent, which is lower than the state average of 12.2 percent. This means there’re about 10,000 people looking for work in our county. Only two other states—Michigan at 15.2 and Nevada at 13.2 percent—are in worse shape than California.
NEW TIMES: What tips would you have for those looking for employment?
AGUILAR: Well, an employee has to be educated in the field they are applying for. We’re in a county with a great deal of underemployment. That means there’s a lot of well-qualified people who have outstanding experience but can’t find a job. You have to keep yourself competitive. You know how a doctor says, “heal thyself?” Well, you have to “teach thyself.”