Business Climate

The 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.

 Citywide Totals:

  • 9,861 businesses
  • 87,914 employees
  • 89,947 residents
  • 6% unemployment rate

Santa Monica’s Leading Economic Sectors - A Snapshot:

Creative Industries and Technology Sector (aka “Silicon Beach”)

  • 3,197 businesses, employing 30,839 people (35% of the City’s total employment) with an average quarterly payroll of $1.6 billion (57% of City’s total).
  • Santa Monica’s major tech + creative clusters: 
  1. Information (e.g., publishers, motion picture/video production, film distribution, postproduction, telecommunications, sound recording studios)
  2. Professional, Scientific + Technical Services (e.g. advertising, graphic design, computer design/programming, bio- technology R+ D) and 
  3. Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sectors.
  • Examples:  Activision Blizzard, Cornerstone on Demand, Hulu, Lionsgate Entertainment, Oracle, Snap Inc. + Universal Music Group

Health Care Sector

  • 2,568 businesses, employing 10,337 people (12% of the City’s total employment) in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector with an average quarterly payroll of $179.7 million (6% of total payroll)
  • Examples:  Berkley East Healthcare Center, Cedars Sinai Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente SM, Kite - A Gilead Company, Neogene Therapeutics, 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 GoodRX, GOOP, Headspace and FIGS Inc. corporate headquarters and health care educator Santa Monica College.

Hospitality and Tourism Sector

  • 494 businesses in the Accommodation and Food Services sector employ 11,934 people (14% of the City’s total employment) with an average quarterly payroll of $130.2 million (5% of City’s total).
  • 5.3 million visitors came to Santa Monica in 2022 (1.1 million from outside the USA).  Tourism is on the rise 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 $961.7 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 19 restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide including Michelin stars Melisse and Citrin. Notable new restaurants include:  Bar Monette (DTSM), Heavy Handed (Main St), Le Great Outdoors (Bergamot), Vamos Vamos (Main) and Xuntos (DTSM).  Coming soon:  Din Tai Fung (SM Place), Odd One Out (Third St Promenade/DTSM) and Triple Beam Pizza (Main St).  New arrivals to the City’s hotel sector include: The Pierside Hotel, The Georgian Hotel (multi-million renovation), Oceana Hotel (renovations) and Sonder the Beacon (formerly Shangri-La).  In the pipeline: a new hotel on Ocean Avenue designed by starchitect Frank Gehry, Fairmont Miramar Hotel + Bungalows renovation/rebuild featuring a Cesar Pelli-designed facility, and the Regent Santa Monica Beach (completion renovation and rebrand of former Loew's SM Beach Hotel).  

Retail Sector

  • 570 businesses, employing 7,267 people in the retail sector (9% of Santa Monica’s total employment) with an average quarterly payroll of $118.8 million (4% of City’s total).
  • Santa Monica’s businesses generated $3.4 billion in taxable sales in 2022 (a 12% increase from 2021), of which 28% was generated in Downtown SM.  
  •  Purchases made at Santa Monica businesses last year raised $18.5 million in funding for our schools and an estimated $8 million for affordable housing construction and preservation (Measure GSH transaction and use tax). 
  • There are 1,700 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:  Brilliant Earth (SM Place), Fred Segal (MT Ave), John Reed Fitness (3rd St Promenade/DTSM), Lucky Duck (Ocean Park Blvd), Nike (SM Place- major renovation), Reformation (Main St), The RealReal (26th St), Trader Joe's (3rd SM location, DTSM) and Wilson's Sporting Goods (3rd St Promenade/DTSM).   Coming soon:  Barnes and Noble (3rd St Promenade). PIRCH (SM Blvd),  AJA Vineyards Wine Tasting Room (DTSM) and Arte (SM Place).


Top Employers in City of Santa Monica (by total number of employees)

  1. City of Santa Monica (2,170)
  2. Santa Monica College (2,100)
  3. UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica (1,965)
  4. Snap, Inc. (1,745)
  5. Providence St. John's Health Center (1,705)
  6. Services LLC (1,663)
  7. HULU (1,489)
  8. SM-Malibu Unified School District (1,400)
  9. Activision Publishing Inc. (1,173)
  10. Kite Pharma Inc (916)

    Top 25 Sales Tax Producers (in alphabetical order)

  • Apple
  • Audi Leasing Bentley Leasing
  • Daimler Trust
  • Fairmont Miramar Hotel
  • Fame House
  • Ferguson Enterprises
  • Genesis Santa Monica
  • Honda of Santa Monica
  • Jaguar/Land Rover Santa Monica
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank
  • Lexus Santa Monica
  • Michael Smith Design
  • Ring
  • Santa Monica Audi
  • Santa Monica BMW
  • 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 Cars Santa Monica
  • WI Simonson Mercedes