City of Santa Monica has a robust and diversified local economy. This document provides an overview of the
citywide economy with additional information on the City’s leading economic
sectors, top employers and top sales tax producers.
- 9,807 businesses
- 79,653 employees
- 93,076 residents
- 4.9% unemployment rate
Santa Monica’s Leading Economic Sectors - A Snapshot:
Creative Industries and Technology Sector (aka “Silicon Beach”)
- 3,166 businesses, employing 29,216 people (37% of the City’s total employment) with an average quarterly payroll of $1.95 billion (63% of City’s total).
- Santa Monica’s major tech + creative clusters:
- Information (e.g., publishers, motion picture/video production, film distribution, postproduction, telecommunications, sound recording studios)
- Professional, Scientific + Technical Services (e.g. advertising, graphic design, computer design/programming, bio- technology R+ D) and
- Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sectors.
- Examples: Activision Blizzard, Cornerstone on Demand, Hulu, Lionsgate Entertainment, Oracle, Snap Inc. + Universal Music Group
Health Care Sector
- 2,557 businesses, employing 9,432 people (12% of the City’s total employment) in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector with an average quarterly payroll of $142.8 million (5% of total payroll)
- Examples: Berkley East Healthcare Center, Cedars Sinai Medical Group, GoodRX, Kaiser Permanente SM, Kite - A Gilead Company, Providence St John’s Health Center + UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center
- In addition to a growing biotech sector, Santa Monica is also a global wellness hub with GOOP, Headspace and FIGS Inc. corporate headquarters and health care educators Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine and Santa Monica College.
Hospitality and Tourism Sector
- 504 businesses in the Accommodation and Food Services sector employ 9,689 people (12% of the City’s total employment) with an average quarterly payroll of $80.2 million (3% of City’s total).
- Since 2020, Santa Monica’s vital travel industry has suffered the impacts of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic with a 76% drop in annual visitors from 8 million to 2 million visitors per year. Tourism is starting to recover as Santa Monica welcomes back both domestic and international visitors. The top five international feeder markets are: Australia/New Zealand, England, Canada, Mexico and Central America.
- The tourism industry is estimated to generate $454 million annually in revenue for the local economy.
- National Geographic ranked Santa Monica as one of the “Top Ten Beach Cities in the World.” And for a fun fact: our historic Santa Monica Pier is the 2nd most Instagrammed place in CA and 8th most in the world.
- Santa Monica has 15 restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide including Michelin stars Melisse, Pasjoli and Rustic Canyon. New arrivals to the City’s hotel sector include: Santa Monica Proper Hotel, the Hampton Inn + Suites SM and the Courtyard by Marriot SM, along with the newly renovated Oceana Hotel, Surestay Hotel by Best Western and the Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites. In the pipeline: Fairmont Miramar Hotel redevelopment and Frank Gehry-designed Ocean Avenue hotel project.
- 588 businesses, employing 6,095 people in the retail sector (9% of Santa Monica’s total employment) with an average quarterly payroll of $94.7 million (3% of City’s total).
- Santa Monica’s businesses generated $2.5 billion in taxable sales in 2020 (a 30% decrease from prior year due to COVID impacts); of which 28% was generated in Downtown SM. Santa Monica’s most recent sales tax data (Q321) reported $10.3 million in sales tax receipts equating to a 23.8% increase year over year.
- Purchases made at Santa Monica businesses last year raised $14 million in funding for our schools and an additional $1 million for affordable housing construction and preservation (Measures GSH + Y).
- There are 1,400 businesses participating in the Buy Local SM campaign who hire local + actively support the community. They employ approximately 3,900 SM residents; 47% are owned by SM residents.
- Santa Monica embraces sustainable, green and eco-friendly businesses. The annual Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) recognizes sustainable leaders; over 158 businesses have received this prestigious SQA Award.
- See Top 25 Sales Tax Producers (below) for some of our noteworthy retailers. Notable new openings include: Target (2 locations), Trader Joe’s (3rd location in DTSM), Aviator Nation (Main St), Daniziger Photography Gallery (Bergamot), The RealReal (26th St), VanMoof e-bikes (DTSM) and VinFast EV Showroom @ SM Place.
Top 10 Employers in City of Santa Monica (by total number of employees)
- City of Santa Monica (2,059)
- UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica (1,965)
- Santa Monica College (1,865)
- Snap, Inc. (1,667)
- Universal Music Group (1,400)
- Providence St. John's Health Center (1,386)
- SM-Malibu Unified School District (1,358)
- HULU (1,320)
- Oracle (950)
- Activision Publishing Inc. (919)
Top 25 Sales Tax Producers (in alphabetical order)
- Audi Leasing Bentley Leasing
- Bourget Bros. Bldg Materials
- Daimler Trust
- Fairmont Miramar Hotel
- Ferguson Enterprises
- Honda of Santa Monica
- Jaguar/Land Rover Santa Monica
- JP Morgan Chase Bank
- Lexus Santa Monica
- Michael Smith Design
- Santa Monica Audi
- Santa Monica Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
- Santa Monica Ford Lincoln
- Shutters on the Beach
- Snyder Diamond
- Subaru Santa Monica
- Tesla Motors
- Toyota Lease Trust
- Toyota Santa Monica
- Volkswagen Santa Monica
- Volvo Santa Monica
- Water Grill/ Pier Burger
- WI Simonson Mercedes