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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

December 2015

December 18, 2015

Phil Blair

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“When an influx of people join the labor force and begin seeking employment, you generally see a lag before they find jobs. In October, a substantial amount of people joined the labor force, but reported as unemployed. In November, it appears as though those people found jobs, as we saw no change in the labor force, but a significant reduction in unemployment.”
Phil Blair, Executive Officer
Manpower San Diego

This post is part of an ongoing monthly series dedicated to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) monthly employment release and is brought to you by Manpower. Click images to enlarge in a new tab/window.


The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the November 2015 period. This month’s data indicates that San Diego is showing strong signs of growth in the local economy as we near the end of 2015.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent in November, down 0.2 points from the previous month. In October, the region experienced a large jump in the labor force without a large jump in employment, which caused the unemployment rate to rise back to 5.0 percent. The labor force stayed virtually the same in November, but higher employment and lower unemployment brought the rate back down to 4.8 percent. The number of unemployed fell by 2,000 from October to November, indicating that the fall in unemployment was healthy and not due to a reduction in the labor force.

The rate is now 1.2 points lower than the previous year and on par with the national unemployment rate at 4.8. The region remains much lower than the statewide unemployment rate of 5.7 percent. The unemployment rate is now expected to end the year in the mid-four percent range in December, resulting in an annual average of about 5.0 percent for 2015, down substantially from the 2014 average of 6.4 percent.

Unemployment Rate

The region’s overall year-over-year employment grew, but below the 2015 average of 3.1 percent. San Diego’s total non-farm employment grew by 37,800 jobs from November 2014 to November 2015—2.7 percent growth. San Diego’s growth rate was again much higher than the 1.9 percent national rate. The San Diego region is still expected to average 3.1 percent annual growth in 2015, compared to only 2.3 percent in 2014.

Year-over-year private sector growth continued to drive the economy, as private employment drove 92.1 percent of all employment growth. The total private sector grew by 3.1 percent, out-pacing the private U.S. growth rate of 2.2 percent. Private growth was driven largely by service providers, but goods producers experienced a particularly strong month. Goods producers like manufacturers and construction companies drove 24.1 percent of annual private job growth. This was due to both strong growth in those industries and uncharacteristically weak growth in service providing industries like professional and business services and trade.

Total Nonfarm Employment

From November 2014 to November 2015, the manufacturing industry added 2,400 jobs—a 2.5 percent growth rate. The ship and boat building industry continued to grow at an outstanding rate of 10.3 percent. Meanwhile, the construction industry added 6,000 jobs and grew by 9.4 percent. Continued growth in goods producing industries remains a positive sign for the region, as these jobs tend to be accessible and pay above the median wage for the region.

Professional, Scientific, and Technical (PST) services, which is strongly associated with the region’s innovation economy, grew by 5.5 percent and was one of the highest growth industries in the region. PST services accounted for roughly one fifth of all private annual job growth in San Diego. The national PST sector grew by only 3.6 percent. Scientific research and development services, a subsector of PST that represents many cleantech and life science companies, grew at a relatively low 3.3 percent compared to previous months.


Other key drivers for growth included the region’s healthcare sector, which added 8,600 jobs and accounted for roughly one quarter of the region’s private job growth. Tourism experienced a major seasonal hit last month, but rebounded slightly in November. The industry added 1,100 jobs from the previous month and 3,700 overall since last November. The annual growth rate in the industry has slowed in the latter half of the year, but still growing, particularly in food service and drinking places.

November’s employment numbers included more positive signs for the region’s economy, particularly when compared to the year before. The region has 13,200 more people in the labor force, 17,000 fewer unemployed, and has added more than 37,000 jobs. The growth rates have slowed in recent months, which may be a reflection of slowing national trends, an indication of mounting issues in the economy, or a brief blip in an otherwise outstanding year. Annual growth rates have varied throughout the year, but have consistently remained above state and national trends, with growth concentrated in high-tech and high-wage sectors. With one month of data remaining in 2015, all signs point to a solid overall year for the region’s economy.


Note: Our Economic Indicators Dashboard will show how our unemployment rate compares to other US metros and the US total rate when that information is released in the coming weeks.


December 17, 2015

In 2015, San Diego’s economic impact spanned the globe.

From connecting with companies in Tokyo to premiering a “National Geographic” documentary in London, EDC collectively traveled nearly 60,000 miles this year – the equivalent of traveling around the globe twice.
This work is made possible by the strategic investment of more than 150 visionary companies and organizations that support EDC's economic development agenda. Click here to see EDC's year in review.

December 11, 2015
San Diego Regional EDC is pleased to announce the relaunch of the World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego), an organization dedicated to growing international trade and investment opportunities for San Diego. After an extensive search, the organization has hired Dr. Nikia Clarke as the new director of the WTC San Diego.
The city of San Diego, Port of San Diego and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority jointly own the license for the WTC San Diego, and have partnered with San Diego Regional EDC to execute World Trade Center programs. As a member of the World Trade Centers Association (headquartered in New York City), WTC San Diego will connect San Diego businesses to a global network of more than 330 World Trade Center licensees in roughly 100 countries. 
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “The WTC San Diego is a critical part in the engine that will fire up our economy and workforce through creating foreign-direct investment and export opportunities. I’m proud of this accomplishment and the hard work that our partnership did to bring this vital organization back to life. I’m also proud of San Diego Regional EDC for coordinating the day-to-day tasks of this organization that will ultimately help showcase San Diego on the world stage as a talented and innovative city.”   
Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC said, “We are fortunate to have three of our most important public partners driving San Diego’s international engagement strategy. The best way to grow jobs locally is by helping our companies increase ties with global markets.”
Dan Malcolm, chairman of the board of Port Commissioners said, “As a founding License Holder of World Trade Center San Diego, the Port of San Diego is excited to continue to develop and optimize international networks and trade and investment opportunities to drive economic growth in the region.” 
Robert H. Gleason, board chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said, “At San Diego International Airport, we know that a region’s economic competitiveness relies on effective air transportation and efficient connections to global markets. So we have looked forward to the relaunch of World Trade Center San Diego for some time and are excited to help advance the work of this crucial organization on behalf of our region and its international airport.”
WTC San Diego will capitalize on the brand’s strong local legacy to further drive a comprehensive regional trade and investment agenda.  WTC San Diego will operate as an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC, executing the region’s Go Global San Diego initiative and providing other trade-related services. Released in early 2015 as a roadmap for reorienting the region’s economy towards greater global engagement, Go Global San Diego aims to grow jobs, enhance San Diego’s global identity and increase connections to markets that matter most to the region’s economy.  
In her new role, Clarke will be charged with overseeing San Diego’s international engagement strategy. A graduate of Oxford University with a Ph.D. in international relations, Clarke joins WTC San Diego with an extensive background in global business strategy, foreign direct investment (FDI) policy research and investment trends consulting. Clarke has spent the last ten years working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors in the U.S., the U.K., China and South Africa, and is founder and former director of OUCAN, an international network of emerging market industry leaders, researchers and policy makers. 
This week, WTC San Diego convenes the Global Competitiveness Council for its inaugural meeting. This group of senior partners and stakeholders will help to drive global engagement programming for the region. Highlights of WTC San Diego programming in early 2016 include: 
  • Outbound Mission: Japan (January)
  • Outbound Mission: Australia/New Zealand (February)
  • San Diego Global Forum: Latin America (February)
  • MetroConnect Export Challenge Kickoff (March)
  • Incoming Mission: American Competitiveness Exchange (April)
  • Outbound Mission: United Kingdom (April)
WTC San Diego is co-located with the San Diego Regional EDC offices. 
December 10, 2015


A taste of San Diego.  During a Nov. 2014 trip to Munich, Mark Cafferty(L) and Ian Wendlandt (R- Chief of Staff, Stone) present Stone Beer to Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter. 

On tap this week: Another ‘first’ for San Diego. At a time when many San Diego breweries are going through acquisitions, Stone Brewing Co. is going global.

In 2014, EDC Investor Stone announced it would be the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate a brewery in Europe. And they chose Berlin, arguably the beer capital of the world (pre-San Diego beer reign, that is), as the place to do this. This week, Europeans got their first taste of these San Diego-influenced, Berlin-brewed Stone craft beers. The hop-centric craft beers made their debut at more than 40 locations throughout Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

This is a significant moment for craft beer internationally,” said Stone CEO & co-founder Greg Koch in a company statement. “We’ve worked long and hard to introduce our vision of bold, innovative craft beer to Europeans and that day has finally arrived.”

Stone is not just introducing great beer to the masses, but with it, is also giving foreign audiences a taste of San Diego. San Diego will benefit if more companies, not just in the beer industry, but in medical devices, software and other high impact industries, follow suite.  Global companies pay higher wages, are less likely to go out of business, increase productivity of the domestic market, and spur more efficient development of technology and R&D. In 2015, EDC launched its Go Global San Diego initiative to enable other San Diego companies to engage in global markets. And every time EDC travels internationally, it always brings Stone beer with it.

As Bruce Katz, a key EDC partner at the Brookings Institution, said, “You don’t export unless you are making a high-quality product that the rest of the world wants…And that’s the San Diego story.” Global interest has sparked a demand for San Diego beer and Stone is capitalizing on it. It’s our hope that other companies do the same. 

December 8, 2015

This week, we sat down with Sean Curtis and Barbara Curtis Smalley of Coffee Ambassador, a family-owned office coffee service company based in San Diego.  Serving over 250,000 cups of coffee a day to businesses across the region, Coffee Ambassador keeps San Diego’s workforce well-charged in the comfort of their own offices.   

1) Please tell us what your company/organization does.

Founded by Bill and Vera Curtis in their Pacific Beach garage, Coffee Ambassador has kept the coffee brewing in San Diego breakrooms for 45 years. Now led by the brother and sister team of Sean Curtis and Barbara Curtis Smalley, the company has used its nearly five decades of experience in the office coffee industry and local business community to create modern coffee solutions for offices of any size.

With the rise in popularity of high-end cafes, today’s workers have raised their expectations of coffee, and those expectations have extended to the workplace. It’s not just about getting a quality brew, although that is a major component. They crave the café experience at work--the opportunity to reflect, connect, recharge, or brainstorm as they would at their favorite coffee shop. Coffee Ambassador creates these great tasting moments at local businesses, where 250,000 Coffee Ambassador cups are filled every day.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

San Diegans appreciate local quality. Quality weather, food, leisure—these are just some of the things that San Diegans love to enjoy. It’s no surprise then that they understand the value of both having a quality coffee experience at work and supporting a local, family-owned company that is committed to providing superior customer service.

In gratitude for the tremendous local support we have received, we have kept our focus solely on being the “office coffee experts” in San Diego County. Staying local and serving locally allows us to monitor developments in the international coffee industry but implement solutions with a unique understanding of coffee trends within San Diego. 

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Begun in 1989 as a small screenprinting shop in San Diego, Custom Logos has transformed into a leading national supplier of promotional products and branded apparel.  They still do their own screenprinting and embroidery in house at their Kearny Mesa headquarters, which allows them to closely monitor quality and provide a quick turnaround time. We are big fans of their high-standard products, not to mention their personal and professional customer interaction.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

We anticipate that companies will continue choose San Diego as a draw for high-quality workers and that a number of startups in incubators today will grow into large local presences in the next five years. As a company, we want to grow with them, supporting them from the beginning and then adapting to their changing needs. We also anticipate that as more Millennials join the workforce, the expectation of a better office coffee experience will become tied into quality of life at work. While the products or equipment may change over time, we hope to keep providing the same great tasting moments that our customers have come to expect and appreciate.