Employment Metrics

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Improved more than 1 percent from
2016 to 2017

How are we doing?

Employment received a thumbs-up because the San Diego County unemployment rate continued to fall from 4.5% in fourth quarter 2016 to 3.6% in fourth quarter 2017. The local unemployment rate remained lower than the California average by more than half a percentage point. In 2017, the sector with the fastest job growth was Transportation and Utilities. Professional and Business Services remained the total job leader with nearly 240,000 employees.  See more information.

San Diego County’s unemployment rate continued to decrease through 2017 and into the first quarter of 2018, and has remained lower on average than both the California and the U.S. rates.

Data Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, 2018; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, 2018

Why is it important?

  • San Diego’s economy, jobs, wage growth and ability to attract talented individuals and businesses are all part of the region’s quality of life balance.
  • According to the American Community Survey, millennials 20 to 34 years old accounted for 35% of California's workforce in 2015 but had a higher-than-average unemployment rate of 8.9%.
  • In California, individuals 16 to 24 years old had a 15.8% unemployment rate in 2015. Businesses can foster opportunities for internships and mentorships for young professionals, which can add to the region’s economic success.

San Diego’s job growth in industries related to climate action planning includes five industries: Energy and Water Efficient Buildings, Clean and Renewable Energy, Climate Resiliency, Transportation and Zero Waste. The number of jobs in these industries grew 10.9% from 2010-16, with the fastest job growth in Zero Waste and Energy and Water Efficient Buildings. Jobs in Clean and Renewable energy declined by 1.3%.

Data Source: Emsi, Occupations Employed by Industry: San Diego Regional EDC, June 2017; Center for Sustainable Energy, 2017

Growth in Employment by Sector

(not seasonally adjusted, San Diego County, 2016-2017)

Supersector and Industry
Total Jobs in
December 2017
from 2016
Total (Private and Government) 1,474.9 1.38%
Total Private 1222.4 1.41%
Professional and Business Services 238.4 2.58%
Prof., Scientific & Tech. Services 132 3.77%
Mgmt. of Companies & Enterprises 21.8 1.87%
Administrative 84.6 0.95%
Trade, Transportations, and Utilities 237.5 0.89%
Wholesale Trade 48.9 0.62%
Retail Trade 155.4 -0.13%
Transportation and Utilities 33.2 6.41%
Leisure and Hospitality 193.2 0.00%
Education and Health Services 207.2 2.12%
Education Services 30.1 1.01%
Health Care and Social Assistance 177.1 2.31%
Manufacturing 110.7 1.65%
Financial Services 76.2 1.46%
Finance and Insurance 46.2 0.65%
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 28.2 1.81%
Construction 80.1 1.91%
Other Services* 54.4 0.37%
Information 24.4 0.00%
Mining and Logging 0.3 0.00%
Total Government 252.5 1.24%
Federal Government 47.2 -0.84%
State Government 50.9 2.83%
Local Government 154.4 1.38%

Transportation and Utilities had the fastest job growth for a subsector with a 6.41% increase. Job growth in the Professional and Business Services sector also increased significantly. Professional and Business Services remained the total job leader with nearly 240,000 employees.

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2018

*Other Services: Establishments in this sector are primarily engaged in activities, such as equipment and machinery repairing, promoting or administering religious activities, grantmaking, advocacy, and providing dry cleaning and laundry services, personal care services, death care services, pet care services, photofinishing services, temporary parking services, and dating services.


  Idea for Change

Business leaders should look at ways to make small businesses, which represent 98% of businesses in San Diego, more competitive in attracting and retaining talent. According to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation’s Inclusive Growth Initiative, San Diego’s innovation economy has made the region better educated and more prosperous, however, we have room for improvement to ensure that prosperity is shared by all.  According to the report, small businesses that have 100 employees or less, pay up to 20% lower average wages than those at larger firms. To combat this problem, an employer-led steering committee will develop recommendations for the region’s small businesses.

  Bright Spot

Job opportunities for San Diegans need to be inclusive for all, as employment is important for achieving personal stability and secure housing. The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) partners with The County of San Diego Health and Human Services through the Work Well Initiative to implement the Supported Employment initiative to increase opportunities for employment for people with lived experience of mental illness. The focus of the initiative is to build a healthy, safe community in which employment is a critical component of personal wellness and equal opportunity for all.

  What are we measuring?

We track the quarterly trend in unemployment rates in major urban counties, California and the U.S. as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also track year-over-year change in employment in major industries and supersectors as defined by the North American Industry Classification System. Learn more about the data.

Featured Corporate Citizen: Evans Hotels

Featured Project Evans Hotel

More employers today are committed to the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. Local, family owned Evans Hotels (Bahia Resort Hotel, Catamaran Resort & Spa and The Lodge at Torrey Pines) walks the talk. Since 2009, all its hotels have been certified at the highest level in California’s Green Lodging Program. That requires an environmental policy and meeting seven criteria, from waste minimization to environmentally and socially sensitive purchasing policies. Highlights of Evans Hotels' "We Care" social responsibility report include:

  • 76% of total waste diverted from landfills
  • $300,00 in cash and in-kind contributions to community-based organizations
  • 100 employees with the company 20 years or more


  Learn more