Good News of the Week – January 22, 2021

Every week, ‘Good News of the Week’ features a curation of positive headlines from San Diego, delivered straight to your inbox. A blend of aggregated stories from San Diego’s most trusted news sources and original EDC-created content, GNOTW provides a comprehensive recap of the region’s best stories from the past week.

For the week of January 22, 2021, here’s what we’re reading:

…and here are the events we’re (virtually) attending:

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: January 2021

This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers December 2020 and reflects some effects of the pandemic on the labor market. In December 2020:

  • San Diego lost 5,300 jobs—atypical during the holiday season.
  • The unemployment rate jumped to 8.0 percent, up from 6.6 percent in November.
  • San Diego’s “K-shaped” recovery will exacerbate longstanding structural problems in the economy, making the case for an inclusive growth strategy even stronger.

Explore the Interactive Report


San Diego business resources:

Amidst everything happening in the world, we need a reminder that there’s plenty of ‘Good News’ to go around in San Diego. We have also compiled additional resources for businesses and individuals seeking additional guidance.

For businesses:

For individuals:

Be in the know – sign up below to receive future editions of GNOTW.

Want to submit your event or news update to our weekly newsletter? Contact us for more information.

Heather Dewis
Heather Dewis

Coordinator, Marketing

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: January 2021

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers December 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Key Takeaways

  1. San Diego lost 5,300 jobs, on net, in December, which is not typical during the holiday season.
  1. The unemployment rate jumped to 8.0 percent from 6.6 percent in November amid job losses and growth in the labor force.
  1. San Diego’s “K-shaped” recovery will exacerbate longstanding structural problems in the economy, making the case for an inclusive growth strategy even stronger.

Labor Market Overview

San Diego’s labor market suffered a setback in December after new business restrictions were put into place to combat a surge in COVID-19 infections and an alarming decline in ICU bed capacity. Local employers let go of 5,300 workers, on net, last month, lifting the unemployment rate to 8.0 percent from 6.6 percent in November. A drop in employment for the month of December is atypical, since holiday hiring is usually in full swing. Last month’s decline marks only the sixth time in 72 years where employers have let more workers go than they hired in December.

San Diego’s unemployment rate is lower than California’s 8.8 percent but significantly higher than the nation’s rate of 6.5 percent in December.

The causes for the rise in San Diego’s December unemployment rate are two-fold, and the news isn’t entirely bad: First, and most obviously, job losses drove the rate higher. However, this was compounded by an increase in the labor force of 12,200 people. The labor force vacillated for most of 2020 but ended the year close to its February, pre-pandemic level—good news for the labor market heading into 2021, if it is sustained.

Industry View

Leisure and Hospitality employers let go of 9,600 workers in December, which was more than enough to lower total employment. The lion’s share of hospitality job losses came from Accommodation and Food Services, which gave back 10,300 positions. Other Services, Government, Manufacturing, Educational Services (private, non-government), and Financial Activities each lost jobs. However, the losses for all of those industries totaled just 4,300, less than half of the layoffs experienced in Accommodation and Food Services alone.

The weakness in Leisure and Hospitality drove an even larger wedge between the jobs recovery for high-paying and low-paying positions, exacerbating a worrisome trend where the income and wealth gaps in San Diego will likely widen exponentially as a result of the pandemic-fueled recession.

Despite the decline in topline employment, job gains were apparent in a number of industries. Business and Professional Services added a healthy 2,500 workers in December, fueled by a gain of 2,700 in the crucial Professional, Scientific, and Technical segment, while retailers brought on 1,900 additional employees despite weak retail sales.

Behind the Numbers

All in all, December’s lackluster employment report is a downer, but not an unexpected one. With COVID-19 cases surging in the region and hospitals running out of valuable space for patients, business restrictions became necessary from a public health perspective.

As mentioned, the decline in employment last month is not typical for December, but it may bode well for January’s employment report. Under more normal circumstances, January typically reveals job losses as seasonal workers are let go. However, given that seasonal hiring was more tepid in 2020, layoffs in January may be less pronounced.

Labor force growth in December is also encouraging if it can be sustained. The extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits should help to keep a floor under the workforce, since only people in the labor force can claim them. Additionally, despite the sharp drop in Leisure and Hospitality employment last month, many firms in the region are still hiring. Therefore, we can expect people to remain in the labor force as long as job growth resumes as we enter 2021.

Unfortunately, these are about the only silver linings in December’s jobs report.

Annual revisions to the 2020 jobs numbers will be released by California EDD on Friday, March 12. Typically, revisions show greater job losses than were initially reported during recession periods. This is because the Labor Department estimates the pace of business formations in a given month, which usually assumes the addition of at least some new jobs as new firms come online. However, a Census-like count of business formation carried out after the initial estimates are released usually shows more business closures, on net, which thereby reduces the level of employment. So, in all likelihood, 2020 revisions could reveal deeper job losses last year than initially reported.

The shape and timbre of the jobs recovery means that even more work will be needed to shore up the local economy. The exponential widening in wealth and income gaps from the “K-shaped” recovery to-date will mean even more aggressive policies aimed at protecting and empowering our lowest-paid workers. Also, declines in the labor force earlier in 2020 were in large part the result of women leaving the workforce. If 2021 exhibits a repeat of that contraction, then it will almost certainly lead to greater disparities in gender pay. Finally, housing has continued to become even less affordable amid high unemployment and rising home values across the region.

It will take intentional and effective action to get this recovery right. It is now more important than ever to ensure greater access to higher education and worker training for our region’s lower-income households. Additionally, companies may also want to consider employee-ownership models, like the one Taylor Guitars recently announced, to give workers a larger stake in their economic fortunes. By offering a pathway to higher paying, more stable employment, we can ensure a more resilient and vibrant San Diego in the future, which will benefit all of us for decades to come.

Learn more about San Diego’s right recovery

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Good News of the Week – January 15, 2021

Every week, ‘Good News of the Week’ features a curation of positive headlines from San Diego, delivered straight to your inbox. A blend of aggregated stories from San Diego’s most trusted news sources and original EDC-created content, GNOTW provides a comprehensive recap of the region’s best stories from the past week.

For the week of January 15, 2021, here’s what we’re reading:

…and here are the events we’re (virtually) attending:

Innovation companies: Share your insights

EDC is surveying San Diego’s tech and life sciences companies to better understand regional talent needs and help inform our San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign into 2021 and beyond. Kindly take a few minutes to share your thoughts and help us strengthen San Diego’s talent pipeline.

Complete the Survey


San Diego business resources:

Amidst everything happening in the world, we need a reminder that there’s plenty of ‘Good News’ to go around in San Diego. We have also compiled additional resources for businesses and individuals seeking additional guidance.

For businesses:

For individuals:

Be in the know – sign up below to receive future editions of GNOTW.

Want to submit your event or news update to our weekly newsletter? Contact us for more information.

Heather Dewis
Heather Dewis

Coordinator, Marketing

Apply by January 25: California Competes Tax Credit

Any business that is growing in the state of California over the next five years, or is considering leaving California, is encouraged to apply for a California Competes Tax Credit to offset its state income tax liability.

Awards are primarily based on the following factors:

  • Number of jobs created or retained in California
  • Capital investments in California over the next 5 years
  • Overall economic benefit to the state and its people
  • Flight risk; commitment to remaining in California

For more information on eligibility, visit the State website or EDC’s informational brochure, and apply by January 25.

Get help applying

Learn about the application process via California GO-Biz’s on-demand webinars:

  • January 14, 4:00–5:00 p.m. PST | Register
  • January 19, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. PST | Register

Plus, reach out to EDC’s expert team for assistance. We’ll help your company apply to the California Competes Tax Credit, find COVID-19 relief programs, and more, at no charge.

Request EDC assistance

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A note from Dr. Clarke…

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”  —General Dwight D Eisenhower

Every year at EDC, our team spends November and December moving through a structured goal setting process together with our investors, our executive committee, and our board. We work to establish objectives for the year that are responsive to the demands of current economic conditions; that are led by the businesses that create jobs for San Diegans; and that have measurable outcomes that contribute to prosperity and competitiveness across the binational region.

This year, we face unprecedented uncertainty as an organization, economy, and community. The pandemic and subsequent economic hardships have not impacted our community evenly, and the decisions we make on where to prioritize our time and resources have never been more critical. We know 2021 will be another challenging year for everyone. But we also know that it will present us with historic opportunities to contribute to the region’s economic resiliency, recovery, and long-term prosperity.

For an economic development organization, meeting this unique moment requires going back to basics—prioritizing the fundamental building blocks of a strong economy: jobs, talent, and households. In 2021, all our goals, programs, and initiatives roll up to these three priorities as we work to better connect our businesses, workers, and communities to the drivers of growth.

  1. JOBS: Our core competency at EDC is working with businesses, both as they navigate the now, as well as understanding what comes next. At a time when the rules are changing daily, we will track business sentiment and economic resilience. We will continue to assist companies of all sizes as they seek relief, insight, and sustainable connections to customers and markets. And via our World Trade Center, in 2021, we will grow available services for small businesses hoping to access international markets.
  1. TALENT: Despite high levels of unemployment, there are still shortages for in-demand jobs. Via Advancing San Diego, we will continue to work through employers to identify needed skills and create pathways for all San Diegans into quality jobs. And via San Diego: Life. Changing., we will connect talent around the world to jobs at San Diego firms.
  1. HOUSEHOLDS: A competitive region is an affordable one, with the infrastructure the economy needs to thrive. We will double down on the pillars of inclusive growth through our Anchor Collaborative, which enables large employers—universities, hospitals, governments, and utilities—to maximize their economic impact. This year, we will release research and recommendations that leverage large buyers to provide $100 million in new contracts to small businesses, and work with and through our anchor partners to advance those goals.

There is much we don’t know about what this year holds, but we do know that things will change: in the economy, in our region, and thus in these goals and plans. We know we will have to remain agile, adaptable, creative, and inclusive to ensure that EDC remains a resource to our community. We will continue to work with and through our investors and stakeholders to get this recovery right. Join us.

—Dr. Nikia Clarke, VP of Economic Development, EDC; Executive Director, WTCSD

Good News of the Week – January 8, 2021

Every week, ‘Good News of the Week’ features a curation of positive headlines from San Diego, delivered straight to your inbox. A blend of aggregated stories from San Diego’s most trusted news sources and original EDC-created content, GNOTW provides a comprehensive recap of the region’s best stories from the past week.

For the week of January 8, 2021, here’s what we’re reading:

…and here are the events we’re (virtually) attending:

COVID-19 assistance for small businesses

From California’s COVID Relief Grant Program to PPP updates, EDC has outlined seven new and ongoing resources available to small businesses navigating the impacts of COVID-19. Reach out to EDC for assistance finding and applying to these programs, free of charge.

Find Resources and Assistance


San Diego business resources:

Amidst everything happening in the world, we need a reminder that there’s plenty of ‘Good News’ to go around in San Diego. We have also compiled additional resources for businesses and individuals seeking additional guidance.

For businesses:

For individuals:

Be in the know – sign up below to receive future editions of GNOTW.

Want to submit your event or news update to our weekly newsletter? Contact us for more information.

Heather Dewis
Heather Dewis

Coordinator, Marketing

WTC San Diego welcomes new British Consul General Emily Cloke

World Trade Center San Diego extends its warmest welcome to Emily Cloke, the new British Consul General in Los Angeles.

This past December, we were honored to host Ms. Cloke, as well as Antony Phillipson, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America, UK Government, at our virtual Global Competitiveness Council to discuss the future of trade with the UK and EU post-Brexit. Council members received a valuable update on the current state of play in Brexit negotiations, a forward look at the future trading relationship between the UK and US, and opportunities for the UK and US moving forward toward 2021.

The UK ranks among San Diego’s top investors in FDI and venture capital, particularly in life science and tech. As such, connectivity with UK is of high priority to WTC San Diego, as well as with our partners at San Diego International Airport. Prior to COVID-19, WTC and the Airport worked on non-stop fight with British Airways to London Heathrow. Additionally, in 2017, WTC led a productive trade mission with two dozen San Diego delegates, including Cubic Transportation Systems, Qualcomm, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Representative Scott Peters.

We look forward to strengthening the San Diego-UK relationship, even while working remotely, and we look forward to supporting Ms. Cloke’s efforts to promote trade and investment between our communities.

ABOUT WORLD TRADE CENTER SAN DIEGO

World Trade Center San Diego operates as an affiliate of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. WTC San Diego works to further San Diego’s global competitiveness by building an export pipeline, attracting and retaining foreign investment, and increasing San Diego’s global profile abroad.

Do you want to know more about the work of World Trade Center San Diego? Receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: December 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers November 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unemployment falls to 6.6 percent.
  1. San Diego retailers gear up for holiday season by hiring 1,800 employees, but sales continue to suffer.
  1. Shop local this holiday season and wear a mask.

Labor Market Overview

The region’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in November, down from a revised 7.5 percent in October 2020, and still more than twice the year-ago estimate of 2.9 percent. Unemployment continues to increase in San Diego’s unincorporated and poorer areas, while falling in wealthier areas. The highest unemployment area in the region was Bostonia at 12.4 percent followed by National City at 10.3 percent, and the lowest was Solana Beach at 3.6 percent.

The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than California’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, but slightly higher than the national rate of 6.4 percent. While unemployment continues to fall, much of the improvement can be attributed to government support. In fact, unemployment claims increased again this week showing as emergency aid has dried up—proof the local job market could once again backtrack in the coming months.

Total nonfarm employment increased by 14,300 in November. Trade, transportation, and utilities accounted for the largest monthly gains, adding 8,200 jobs last month, primarily concentrated in retail trade (up 1,800 jobs). Even so, compared to a year ago, retail trade is still down 6,200 jobs. Professional and business services followed with an increase of 2,800 jobs. Job gains were driven by administrative and support services, which added 1,800 jobs. Food services and drinking places continue to struggle, shedding 1,000 jobs last month, even before the mandatory closures that took place in December.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment remains down 97,700 jobs, or 6.4 percent. Leisure and hospitality represent the largest share, down 35,300 jobs. Accommodation is down 12,900 jobs over the year, and food services and drinking places are down 22,400.

Retail Sales Decline

November marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season as shown by an increase in retail employment in San Diego. However, nationwide retail sales numbers were gloomy. Retail sales were down 1.1 percent from October (seasonally adjusted), which was much worse than expected and likely impacted by increased COVID-19 infections and decreasing household income as expanded unemployment benefits expired. Without a stimulus relief package from Congress, retail sales declines will likely continue and perhaps become severe as millions lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas.

Department store sales in the U.S. declined by 19 percent since this time last year and 7.7 percent since last month. Clothing and clothing accessories stores declined by 16.1 percent since last year and 6.8 percent since last month. Food service and drinking place stores declined by nearly one percent since last year and 4 percent since last month due to mandatory stay at home closures.

November’s retail sales were the worst since April, adding to the already growing list of signs that a slowdown in the recovery could be imminent. As San Diego’s retailers hire more employees for the holiday season, the call to shop local and safely becomes more necessary, especially given what appears to be a slowdown in consumer spending. Small businesses drive San Diego’s economy and create thriving neighborhoods. Check out some local favorites around the County.

 

For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.

EDC is here to help. You can use the button below to request our assistance with finding information, applying to relief programs, and more.

Request EDC assistance

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San Diego’s Good News of the Year 2020

While the end of the year is about reflection, it has been challenging for all of us to celebrate 2020’s bright spots and successes. And yet, while our community grappled with global public health and social justice crises, we also saw San Diegans rise to the challenge—as they always do—to address a new virus, grow innovative companies, and make the world a better place.

Read on for the silver linings of 2020, all made possible by the region we call home. Here’s to continued collaboration, resilience, and inclusion in 2021.

-Team EDC

COVID-19 spurs life sciences innovation with global impact

At the onset of the pandemic, we saw our local biotechnology and research communities collaborate to create rapid testing, develop new treatments, and contribute to scientific efforts aimed at bringing a vaccine to the world. Here are just a few of this year’s breakthroughs with a San Diego stamp on them:

  • Pfizer develops COVID-19 vaccine with 95 percent efficacy rate
  • FDA approves first COVID-19 drug from Oceanside’s Gilead Sciences
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific ships first COVID-19 tests
  • BD wins FDA approval of 15-minute, hand-held COVID-19 test
  • Sanford Burnham Prebys wins $10M to test broad-spectrum antivirals to combat COVID-19
  • Vista’s Cue Health wins $481M to expand COVID-19 test manufacturing, adds jobs
  • FDA grants Quidel emergency-use status for first COVID-19 antigen test
  • Inovio gets $71M for COVID-19 vaccine device

Companies find creative solutions to crisis

Some COVID-19 inspired innovation isn’t so obvious. This year, from safe attractions to hand sanitizer, we saw San Diego companies big and small answer the call to innovate:

San Diego makes major strides in research and innovation

Beyond COVID-19, San Diego’s tech and life sciences companies continued to make waves in a diversity of industries, from oncology to aerospace to artificial intelligence (AI):

San Diego stays strong in defense with major contracts

In 2020, an estimated 25 percent of San Diego’s gross regional product was a result of military spending, and we saw key regional players score major contracts:

Venture capital skyrockets, yields big rewards

Venture capital into the region skyrocketed this year, as San Diego companies responded to the challenges of the pandemic. In Q2 and Q3 alone, local life sciences and healthcare companies pulled in $1.4B in new investment—75 percent of all funding. Some of San Diego’s standout startups and raises include:

  • GoSite raises $56M total to help small businesses go online
  • Software unicorn Seismic raises $92M
  • Lytx receives new investment, earns unicorn status
  • Escient Pharmaceuticals raises $77.5M to target proteins with therapeutic potential
  • Flock Freight raises $113.5M to pool truck freight shipments
  • Newly relocated from the Bay Area, ClickUp raises $135M, earns unicorn status

San Diego earns the numbers to back it up

From heavyweights to fast-growing startups, our local companies, talented workforce, and innovative industries remained at the forefront of growth and innovation. We even have the numbers to prove it:

  • San Diego ranks no. 3 in U.S. for life sciences
  • Qualcomm, LunaPBC make Fast Co.’s 2020 ‘Most Innovative Company’ lists
  • San Diego is one of five cities accounting for 90 percent of tech jobs
  • Taylor Guitars sees record sales, renewed interest in guitars
  • Innovative Commercial Environments, Scientist.com join 112 local companies on Inc. 5000
  • Chula Vista ranks as top city for integrating immigrants in the U.S.

Airport, regional companies foster continued connection

This year, we’ve learned that staying connected is key. Whether helping small businesses adapt to remote work or adding critical flights from San Diego, we saw regional players work hard to keep us safely connected to resources, opportunities, and each other:

San Diego makes the region—and the world—a better place

Making the world a better place is no small feat. These are just a fraction of the many ways regional teams made us prouder than ever to be San Diegans:

EDC’S OWN GOOD NEWS

Our Top 20 in 2020

Between a global pandemic, a racial justice reckoning, and an ever-contentious political landscape, this year had nobody ‘seeing 2020’. And yet, here we are—turning the page into the new year, with many of the same problems of 2020, but with greater resilience, forward thinking, and commitment to inclusion.

With and through our nearly 200 investors, EDC is proud to have directly helped nearly 500 San Diego businesses through crisis and recovery. Read our top 20 of 2020.

GET INVOLVED

Fast Five: North County Business Wins from 2020

It’s been a long and unpredictable year, yet it’s gone by in a flash. This year was challenging and different for everyone, but one thing rang true – the North County community showed its resiliency and commitment to collaboration time and time again. Together we celebrated the bright spots and successes and grieved unimaginable loss. And so, as we turn the chapter into a new year, Innovate78 is highlighting some of North County’s biggest business wins in 2020.

  1. Acutus launches successful IPO (Carlsbad) Acutus Medical (AFIB), a Carlsbad-based biotech company that develops 3-D imaging technology for heart procedures, found major success with its IPO. The company’s flagship product, AcQMap, creates a virtual map of the heart that updates in real time with each heartbeat to help treat arrhythmia, which affects more than 2.7 million Americans. Acutus garnered such excitement around its story in the midst of the marketing process for its public offering that it had to upsize. It ultimately raised $183 million for its initial public offering.
  1. Scripps Medical Center opens state-of-the-art facility (Oceanside) Scripps Health opened their Scripps Medical Center Jefferson in Oceanside, giving North County its largest outpatient health center. The facility boasts 85,915 square feet and three stories, and is designed as a one-stop shop for patients, with a wide range of outpatient services including primary care, cardiology, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics and pediatrics, along with comprehensive imaging, outpatient surgery, urgent care and same-day walk-in care through Scripps HealthExpress.
  1. Exagen rapidly expands footprint and employee count (Vista) Inside Exagen, scientists work around the clock on groundbreaking tools to help physicians better diagnose and monitor autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, giving hope to patients with major, unmet medical needs. The Vista-based company is growing rapidly, expanding its footprint from approximately 33,500 square feet to approximately 46,500 square feet for its corporate headquarters and ancillary space. Earlier this year, Mayor Judy Ritter and Vista City Council Members joined Exagen to learn about their life-changing work through a lab tour (pictured here) during their ribbon cutting celebration of the new facility expansion.
  1. Piercan secures $1.5 million in tax credits (San Marcos)Piercan is a worldwide leader in manufacturing niche polymer products, including specialty gloves used by NASA, pharmaceutical companies, and beyond. The San Marcos company secured a $1.5 million California Competes Tax Credit. With the funds, Piercan will expand their local operations and create 62 new jobs along the 78 Corridor. The company will also be investing more than $7.5 million toward wages, equipment and improvements in North County within the next five years.
  1. LocalHub opens and thrives through pandemic (Escondido) Opened this year in Escondido, LocalHub allows small business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers a space to work, conduct meetings, use shared resources and collaborate safely. While coworking spaces have been hit as the pandemic has forced people to temporarily stay and work from home, the LocalHub continues to grow and thrive. In addition, LocalHub began hosting a weekly Tuesday outdoor retail market to support local makers and retailers who have been hit with significant reductions in indoor sales capacity to sell their wares in a safe, outdoor environment on the LocalHub campus.