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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

March 2015 U.S. Metro Employment Comparison

May 8, 2015

Recently, EDC released its March Manpower Monthly Employment Report. Since then, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released March employment data on all U.S. metros, which allows us to analyze some key indicators across geographies. Click on images to enlarge in a new window/tab.


  • At 5.1 percent, San Diego’s unemployment rate ranked 11th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros.
  • From March 2014 to March 2015, San Diego's unemployment rate fell by -2.0 percentage points, which ranked 3rd.
  • San Diego's total employment grew by 3.1 percent from March 2014 to March 2015, which ranked 10th.
  • San Diego's employment in professional, scientific and technical services (PST) grew by 7.2 percentwhich ranked 3rd.
  • Manufacturing in San Diego grew by 1.5 percent from the previous year, the 9th highest growth rate.

[Unmployment Chart]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released employment data for the March 2015 period for all U.S. metro areas. At 5.1 percent, San Diego County’s unemployment rate fell by 2.0 points from this time last year. This was the 3rd largest drop in the nation, among the 25 most populous U.S. metros. That fall brought San Diego's rank to 11th among major U.S. metros and placed it below the U.S. overall rate of 5.6 percent.  

[Employment Chart]

When looking at employment growth, San Diego was above the national average. From March 2014 to March 2015, the region's employment grew by 3.1 percent, which ranked 10th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros. The U.S. average growth rate was at only 2.3 percent. San Diego has consistently outpaced U.S. employment growth this year and has been among the top 10 competitive metros in the nation.

[PST Chart]

San Diego's innovation economy is largely driving the region's growth. The region is outpacing nearly all other major metros in professional, scientific and technical services (PST) growth. PST is a sector of the economy very heavily associated with the region's innovation clusters. Much of the companies and employment in clusters like biotechnology, biomedical products, cleantech and information technology fall within the PST sector. Employment in the region's PST sector grew by 7.2 percent since last March, the 3rd most out of any metro studied here. This figure was roughly double the U.S. average and only behind California peers San Francisco and Riverside, which is a positive sign for the state and region's key traded clusters.

[MFG Chart]

San Diego's manufacturing sector growth has slowed in recent months. Manufacturing is another key industry for growth in the region, not only because manufacturing jobs are accessible and pay well, but also because certain manufacturing subsectors are critical to the region's innovation clusters. From March 2014 to March 2015, manufacturing employment grew by only 1.5 percent. San Diego's manufacturing employment growth was just below the U.S. rate of 1.6 percent. The region recorded the 9th highest growth rate among major U.S. metros. Clearly, manufacturing has slowed in most major metros across the U.S. outside of Detroit, Denver and Portland, so this is not a sign unique to San Diego. However, it will remain important to track manufacturing in the coming months to see if growth accelerates.

While overall employment growth and growth in our manufacturing sector weren't comparatively stellar, the region's economy is still generally tracking well above the U.S. average and many of its peers. Unemployment is lower than average and experienced one of the largest annual drops in the nation. Meanwhile, our PST industry continues to be among the fastest growing in the nation.

EDC will be releasing the Manpower Employment Report with April 2015 data for San Diego on Friday, May 15thThank you to Manpower-SD for their ongoing support of EDC's employment trends research.