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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Manpower Employment Report: May 2015

June 19, 2015


“Unemployment claims are nearly a fifth of what they were a year ago, with more than 17,000 fewer San Diegans unemployed. Meanwhile, the labor force has grown by more than 26,000, which shows that people are optimistic about getting back to work in the region.”

Phil Blair, President and CEO
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 May 2015 period. This month’s data shows that unemployment remained below five percent in May, as the economy continued to grow at an accelerated rate.

The unemployment rate remained below 5 percent at 4.9 percent. The rate is 1.3 points lower than the previous year and 0.1 points higher than the previous month. The U.S. and California average rates also increased to 5.3 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.

Unemployment Rate

While the unemployment rate experienced a slight uptick, the labor report was generally positive. Unemployment claims fell by 17,200 since May 2014, an 18.2 percent drop. At the same time, the labor force grew by 26,500 from May 2014 to May 2015 as the employers added more than 42,000 jobs. While labor force growth in May is typical in the region, the scale is much greater than in past years. This indicates that job seekers are becoming more confident as employers continue to add jobs

When looking at monthly or seasonal employment, San Diego County employers added 9,500 jobs from April to May. Goods-producers like construction and manufacturing added 2,300 jobs or roughly one quarter of all employment, while tourism accounted for more than half of the seasonal growth.

Unemployment Claims

From a year-to-year or non-seasonal perspective, the region’s economy grew by 3.2 percent, adding 42,400 jobs from May 2014 to May 2015. The year-to-year growth rate in San Diego continued to outpace the national average of 2.2 percent. Employment growth slowed slightly in the past few months, dipping below three percent, so this month's report is a positive sign that the slowing wasn't a pattern.

The private sector economy accounted for 93.9 percent of the year-to-year job growth and grew by 3.6 percent. This rate also outpaced the U.S. growth rate, which was 2.6 percent over that same period. This job growth continued to be fueled by key sectors and employment did not fall in any sectors in the regional economy. Construction grew by 7.1 percent and added 4,500 jobs. Ship and boat building grew by 18.3 percent and added 1,100 jobs. While manufacturing growth has been a concern in recent reports due to slow growth, the industry picked up the pace in May, growing by 2.2 percent, the highest annual rate since March of 2013.


Innovation service sectors have continued to show high job growth through 2015. The professional, scientific and technical services (PST) sector grew by 6.6 percent year-to-year, and accounted for approximately one-fifth of the annual job growth. This sector represents many of our innovation employers. More specifically, scientific research and development services, a subsector of PST that represents many cleantech and life science companies, grew by 4.3 percent since last May.

The region’s tourism industry continued to show high year-to-year and seasonal growth as well. The leisure and hospitality industry added 8,500 jobs from May 2014 to May 2015, which is about 4.8 percent growth. The industry added 4,900 jobs from April to May, likely due to the ramping up of tourism season in the region. Employment services or staffing agencies experienced high growth in May. The industry added 500 jobs from March to April and 1,200 jobs since the previous year as people are getting back to work.

Year-to-Year Growth

The May labor market report was a great sign for the continued health of the region's economy. While the unemployment rate increased, it remained below five percent amid high labor force growth. Unemployment claims continued to fall year-to-year as the economy continued to grow at a pace well-above the national average. Growth remains concentrated in our traded economy sectors, like tourism and innovation, and in middle-to-high wage industries, like health care and construction. It will be interesting to see if this these positive signs will lead to continued growth in labor force through the summer months.

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.