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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

July 2014

July 24, 2014

Comic Con

Via Nerdist 

North America’s largest pop culture convention kicks off in San Diego today.  For more than 40 years, people from around the globe have flocked to San Diego for Comic- Con. What does this mean for the region? We pulled some numbers together to find out:

  • The projected economic impact to the region is $177.8 million 
  •  In 1970, 300 people attended the first Comic-Con. Today, a crowd of more than 130,000 attend the four-day event
  •  Comic-Con means approximately 60,960 hotel room nights have been booked in San Diego 
  •  The estimated cumulative attendance since 1970 is 1,840,000 people
  • If all of Comic-Con attendees in the show’s history linked arms, the line would reach 1,855 mi, which would stretch from the San Diego Convention Center past Chicago (via Nerdist)
  • Plans for an Expanded Convention Center are underway, which will add 740,000 square feet and is expected to yield 7,000 new permanent jobs and $13.5 million in additional tax revenue to the city’s general fund. When complete, San Diego will boast the largest contiguous exhibit space on the West Coast, enticing conventions like Comic-Con to continue calling San Diego home

July 18, 2014


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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.



  • At 6.1 percent, San Diego’s June unemployment rate went up 0.3 percentage points from May, but down 1.7 points from June 2013.
  • San Diego’s unemployment rate was lower than the U.S. and California averages.
  • The region added 9,700 jobs from May to June, and 34,600 jobs from the previous year.
  • Construction industry employment in June was up more than 8.4 percent from the previous year.
  • The manufacturing industry added 2,400 jobs since the previous June.
  • Tourism and Innovation sectors continued to drive much of the monthly and annual employment growth.

[Unemployment Chart]

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the June 2014 period. San Diego’s unemployment rate went up from May to June, but remained lower than California and U.S. averages. Historically, a rise in the unemployment rate is common in June, as many students and other seasonal workers begin looking for summer employment, thus driving up the labor force. The labor force increased by 3,200 from May to June. Meanwhile, total unemployment increased by 3,900, presumably comprised mostly of those entering the labor force. This trend is expected to continue throughout the summer, but is typical both historically and across the country.

[Employment Chart]

When looking at employment growth, we continue to see positive signs of steady growth. From May to June, the region added 9,700 jobs, more than 90 percent of which came from the private sector. When looking at growth since last June, the region’s economy added 34,600 jobs, a 2.6 percent increase. Meanwhile, the region’s private sector grew by more than three percent over that period. Over the same period, San Diego experienced a 1.7 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate and a 19 percent drop in people who identified as unemployed (after adjusting for lower labor force participation).

San Diego’s innovation sectors drove much of the region’s employment growth. Professional, scientific and technical services (PST) added 1,400 jobs since May 2014 and 6,800 jobs since June 2013, for an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent, well above the economy-wide average. PST accounted for more than 20 percent of the annual private employment growth—more than any other sector. The region’s maritime industry also experienced significant growth, with the ship and boat building sector growing 6.8 percent over the year.

[PST Chart]

San Diego’s tourism industry accounted for more than 34 percent of the region’s private employment growth from May to June, adding 3,000 jobs. In addition, the industry added 5,700 jobs since June 2013, with most of that growth coming from the food service industry. Health care and social services was another major contributor. The sector added 1,100 jobs since May and 5,700 jobs since last year.

San Diego’s goods producing industries continued their steady employment growth. Manufacturing employment has been rocky, but steadily grew year-over-year for more than five years. From June 2013 to June 2014, the industry added 2,400 jobs for about a 2.5 percent growth rate. Since June 2010, the industry has added more than 3,600 jobs. Meanwhile, the construction industry continues to soar. From June 2013 to June 2014, the industry added 5,200 jobs, about 8.5 percent growth. 

[MFG Chart]

While again this month’s job growth was led by only a few sectors, it’s important to note that most key industries have grown steadily from the previous year. Additionally, the sectors that drove the employment growth this month are either from our traded economies or are middle-to-high wage jobs in the region. For instance, employees in the PST industry make on average more than $100,000 per year. Manufacturing employees make more than $75,000 per year, more than 40 percent above the region’s average annual wage. High wage jobs help support other sectors in the economy by circulating more dollars throughout the economy. Therefore, consistent growth in these sectors is important for the economy as a whole.

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.

July 15, 2014

The ‘World’s Smartest Company’ just made one of the world’s smartest decisions. Today, genomics pioneer Illumina announced its plans to expand in San Diego.  With the help of EDC, the City of San Diego has announced an agreement that will help keep the biotech company and hundreds of high-paying jobs in San Diego. The City will provide a tax rebate in exchange for the retention and creation of 300 well-paying jobs.

This is a perfect example of how San Diego can support middle class jobs while also encouraging economic growth,” said Mayor Faulconer. “This agreement keeps hundreds of high wage jobs in San Diego, ensures city residents benefit from over a million dollars in annual sales tax revenue, and strengthens our region’s leadership in biotechnology.”

The announcement was made today at press conference at Illumina’s headquarters with CEO Jay Flatley, City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer,  Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner and EDC President and CEO Mark Cafferty. The City Council will now vote to ratify the agreement during the week of July 21.

Founded in 1998 with 15 employees, Illumina now has 3,000  employees – 1,500 which are in San Diego –   with offices in virtually every continent. The innovator has also emerged as one of the most important companies in the global biotech field. Earlier this year, they became the first company to sequence the human genome for under $1,000 a person, making one of the most significant strides in personalized medicine in the past decade. That’s one of the reasons Illumina was recently named “World’s Smartest Company” by MIT Technology Review, ahead of Tesla Motors, Google and Samsung.

“We’re excited to continue to grow a state-of-the-art campus that will not only contribute to Illumina’s success, but also contribute to the growth of San Diego’s life sciences community, to the advancement of genetic research, and ultimately to help people around the globe realize the benefits of personalized medicine,” said Jay Flatley, Illumina’s CEO.

“The fact that the ‘World’s Smartest Company’ has decided to expand its footprint in San Diego speaks volumes to the quality of our biotech industry and innovation economy,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of EDC. “Not only do we have a Mayor that values economic development and job creation, but we also have a cutting-edge company showing how much they value San Diego’s dynamic workforce, manufacturing expertise and research capabilities.”

After an initial meeting with Illumina,  Mark Cafferty called Mayor Faulconer to express his concerns about Illumina expanding outside the region. Within 24 hours, Mayor Faulconer had cleared his schedule to sit down with key Illumina stakeholders to discuss the innovator’s growth plans. 

Like most of San Diego’s successes, collaboration helped us get to this point. Cushman & Wakefield’s Steve Rosetta and Former EDC Board Chair Stath Karras were able to spot a need to engage with Illumina early on in this process.  BIOCOM, Go-BIZ and partners at the State of California were also involved in guiding Illumina’s decision. Another EDC Board Member David Hale, considered one of the godfathers of biotech in San Diego, had flagged Illumina as the “next big thing.” All bets are, David is right.

As San Diego works to tell its innovation story to the rest of the world, we can look to Illumina as a strong global company. They have chosen to stay in San Diego because of the collaboration between the City and other partners as well as the strong talent pool that exists here. They are in England. They are in Brazil. They are in the UK. They are in Japan. But at the end of the day, they are headquartered in San Diego. And that’s the story we need to continue to tell.

U-T has more.