Sonoma City: Additional Data


Sonoma City’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 4.7% in July 2014, lower than Sonoma County (5.8%) for the same month. Compared to July of the previous year, Sonoma City’s unemployment rate is down 1.1 points from 5.8%. Unemployment remains significantly lower in Sonoma City compared to its peak of 9.1% in January of 2010. Sonoma City’s unemployment rate is below both the state (7.8%), and the nation (6.2%).

Total employment in Sonoma City was 4,700 in July 2014, which is up 2.2% from a year earlier. Although it is following an increasing trend, we are noticing a pattern of seasonal employment spikes in the numbers.

The total number of business establishments in 2014 in Sonoma City is 1620. Sonoma County, including all unincorporated cities, has 43,055 business establishments.

About 56% of Sonoma City’s employed population is in the category of Services, which includes education, health care, tourism and legal services. The second largest sector is Retail trade, followed by Manufacturing. This is very similar to the county average. This shows a strong, high demand for tangible goods in the Sonoma City area. 

Residential Real Estate

Retail vacancy rates in Sonoma city have been turbulent since 2005. At the end of the first quarter of 2014, retail property vacancy rate in Sonoma city was 2.2%, which is 4.4 percentage points below city of Sonoma’s peak in 2005. However, Sonoma City’s retail property vacany rate has been stedily increasing since 2012.

Sonoma city’s residential housing vacancy has been historically higher than Sonoma County’s. From 2000 to 2014, the city’s residential housing vacancy rate increased 4.5 percentage points, compared to a 3.4 percentage points gain across the county. Sonoma city’s residential housing vacancy rate is expected to decrease 1.2 points from 10.4% in 2014 to 9.2% in 2019.

The values of residential and non-residential building permits in Sonoma city in July 2014 were $10,503,000 and $4,764,300, respectively. Building permit values reflect trends in construction activity and, while non-residential permits values remain low, residential permits values are showing signs of rebounding.

Consumer Spending & Taxable Sales

Sonoma city’s taxable sales showed signs of rebounding with a gain of 8.71% in 2012 from 2011. This continues to break the downward trend that had seen sharp losses in recent years. Sales began declining in 2008 with a loss of 1.1%, and was followed by a sharper drop of 13.1% in 2009. The gain seen in 2012 is consistent with the positive economic activity across Sonoma County. The county saw an increase of 7.3% in taxable sales in 2011, while the state rose quicker at 9.1%.

Compared to the national average, citizens of Sonoma city spend more in housing, pensions and social security, healthcare, entertainment and recreation, cash contributions/gifts, travel, and education. This is most notable in housing where Sonoma city spends 1.3% more than their national peers.They also spend less than the national average on ‘other’ category by 1.4%. Consumers’ biggest purchases cover housing, transportation, and other.


The percentage of English learners in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District is 32.5%. This includes elementary, middle, and high school students. The ratio of English learners in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District is above the county average of 23%, as well as the state average of 22.7%.

The average SAT score for a student from the Sonoma Valley School District in the 2012-13 school year was 1536. This places the Sonoma Valley Unified School District below the county average of 1607, but above the state average of 1489.

For a complete listing of the particular schools located in each district, please visit the Sonoma County Office of Education’s website at:

Residential Real Estate

The future of median home prices in Sonoma city is significantly increasing after prices rose 25.3% from 2012 to 2013. Median home prices have ranged between $399,000 to about $520,000 from 2009 to 2013. These low prices make homes more affordable, which is good news for new home buyers.

The total number of houses sold in Sonoma city has been increasing since 2007, however 2013 is the first decrease in sales in 5 years. The buying frenzy that is sustaining the housing market after it collapsed has not worn off compared to some areas of Sonoma County which are now seeing decreases in real estate sales. The decrease from 2012 to 2013 is significant, with 31 less homes being sold for a total of 569, a loss of 5.4%.

The average sales price of a home in Sonoma City for 2012 was $512,361. This puts Sonoma at the higher end of the spectrum for homes in the area, and about $78,183 higher than the county average. Sonoma city has the highest volume of sales for its price range, outstanding among higherpriced residential areas.

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2015 Sonoma City Profile