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Now is when people — especially young people graduating from high school and college — focus their attention on the economy, specifically on jobs and careers.

You would think California graduates would be in fine shape, considering that this state is now, officially, the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Actually, California has been up and down the largest-economy scale for years, due mainly to this state’s size with regard to population and specific industry hubs, such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

But those are aging paradigms, and today’s grads are looking beyond such horizons.

When it comes to overall jobs rankings, we do pretty well, according to research results compiled by the personal finance website WalletHub. California is ninth-best nationally, not that far behind No. 1 Massachusetts.

Local grads are probably asking themselves, but who would want to put up with those cold winters? On the other hand, grads in the Northeast are likely saying, who needs wildfires and earthquakes?

California is first in the nation when it comes to the availability of top-level jobs per capita, and fifth nationally for short work weeks and the availability of internships, which are crucial for graduates in search of the very best careers.

California ranks very highly when it comes to those higher-paying jobs, which is a good thing because California has one of the highest overall costs of living in the United States. Anyone house-hunting in Santa Barbara County is acutely aware of the soaring-costs factor.

Still, California sounds like a good bet for this year’s crop of graduates as a place to start a career. Good jobs are available in abundance, new industries are offering golden opportunities, and despite some hiccups in the state’s population growth, California generally is on the upswing economically.

But one must wonder, how long will this surge last? There are multiple signs of a slowing down, especially in manufacturing and housing, and tensions are running high with America’s major trading partners, which includes our neighbor Mexico. This, too, is something California job-seekers need to factor into the career equation.

Santa Barbara County officials are trying to gauge future economic development, and they want to hear from residents and business owners about their plans for the future.

County government officials are conducting an online survey, strictly anonymous, the results of which will be used to set a course for the county’s future. They settled on anonymity in order to get honest feedback. You can take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/7G769D2.

This sort of planning is vitally important for the folks living in North County, because this region has become the go-to location for industries considering California and Santa Barbara County as a landing spot. Even though North County housing costs are relatively high from a national standpoint, they are modest, almost affordable, compared to a median-price on the South Coast. Plus, North County has the land on which commercial development can occur.

If this sounds to you like we’re making a pitch to local graduates to stay home to start and maintain their careers, you are correct. Given the recent population growth in North County, and especially factoring in the city of Santa Maria’s emphasis on reinventing itself and creating a new, people-friendly downtown core, this definitely is the place to be now, and in the future.

Making career decisions is almost never easy, but young people starting out need to think about an old saying — choose a job you truly love, and you’ll never really work a day in your life.

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