Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Manpower Employment Report: December 2015

January 22, 2016

Phil Blair

Download a printable version

“San Diego’s labor market experienced a very positive year in 2015, despite a slower than usual December. The region added tens of thousands of jobs since the previous year, primarily in high-wage and productive industries. This drove thousands of people back to the labor force and resulted in 20,000 fewer unemployed.”
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.

Highlights

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the December 2015 period. This month’s data allows for a complete picture for year 2015, and shows that San Diego’s economy grew at an accelerated pace in 2015 compared to recent years.

The unemployment rate closed the year at 4.7 percent in December, the lowest since June 2007. The rate is down 0.1 points from the previous month and 0.8 points from the previous year. The San Diego rate remained much lower than the statewide unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. When averaged over the entire year, the unemployment rate closed at 5.0 percent for 2015, down substantially from the 2014 average of 6.4 percent. The 2015 annual average is the lowest since the recession. Meanwhile, the annual average labor force was up 17,700 from 2014, while unemployment claims were down 20,300, which indicates a healthy rate drop.

Unemployment Rate

The region’s year-over-year employment for December grew below the 2015 average. San Diego’s total non-farm employment grew by 37,500 jobs from December 2014 to December 2015—2.7 percent growth. San Diego’s growth rate was again much higher than the 1.9 percent national rate. In total, the San Diego region averaged 3.1 percent annual growth in 2015, compared to only 2.3 percent in 2014. This was the highest annual percent growth rate since 2000, as the region added 41,400, the most jobs added since 1999.

The private sector drove employment growth in 2015, as private employment accounted for 91.7 percent of all employment growth over the year. The total private sector grew by 3.4 percent on average in 2015, out-pacing the private U.S. growth rate of 2.1 percent.

Total Nonfarm Employment

Private growth was driven largely by service providers, but goods producers experienced a particularly strong year. Manufacturers and construction companies drove 15.9 percent of private job growth in 2015, and finished the year strong. The two industries added a combined 6,000 jobs in 2015, the most since 2004. The manufacturing industry in particular added the most jobs and experienced the highest annual percent growth rate since 1998. The boom in the construction market is likely a response to demand pressures in the commercial and residential real estate markets, as quality space is becoming increasingly scarce, according to CBRE MarketView reports. The growth in manufacturing and wholesale trade are putting pressure on the industrial market in particular, as the industrial vacancy rate in Q4 2015 was at the lowest ever recorded.

YoY

Professional, scientific, and technical (PST) services, which is strongly associated with the region’s innovation economy, grew by 6.6 percent in 2015, which was the highest growth rate among major industries in the region (tied with construction). The 2015 growth rate was the highest posted since 2005 in the industry. PST services accounted for more than one fifth of all private annual job growth in San Diego. Comparatively, the national PST sector grew by only 3.6 percent in 2015. Scientific research and development services, a subsector of PST that represents many cleantech and life science companies, grew by 5.2 percent.

Other key drivers for growth included the region’s healthcare sector, which added 7,000 jobs and accounted for roughly one fifth of the region’s private job growth in 2015. Tourism experienced another seasonal hit in December, but the annual average was strong. The industry added 6,500 jobs in 2015, a 3.7 percent growth rate. Growth slowed in the latter half of the year, particularly in food service and drinking places, which was driving higher growth earlier in 2015.

Contributions

With a full year of 2015 data on the books, it was a very positive year for San Diego’s economy. The national economy showed tepid growth throughout the year, while San Diego consistently looked much stronger than the country as a whole. Key industries like manufacturing, construction, health care, and PST services had impressive, and by some measures, record years. While concerns around decreases in federal spending for science and defense will likely thwart some expectations for 2016, other factors like the Department of Defense’s shifting focus toward cybersecurity and national trends toward manufacturing re-shoring could prove promising for San Diego. Given these trends, future outcomes remain largely uncertain, but San Diego’s economy appears well positioned for growth through 2016.

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.

This report was performed with assistance from the CBRE research team in San Diego.