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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Manpower Employment Report: March 2015

April 17, 2015

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"San Diego's labor market has really hit its stride. The unemployment rate is at a seven year low and two full percentage points lower than a year ago. More than 30,000 people who were unemployed have found employment in the past year, and the labor force continues to grow. Job growth has been led by key middle-to-high-wage industries like construction, health care, education, manufacturing and scientific services. These are great signs as we move ahead in 2015."
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 March 2015 period. This month’s data shows that unemployment was down again in March as the economy continued to grow at an increasingly solid pace.

The unemployment rate is likely the big story again this month since at 5.1 percent, it is the lowest it has been in nearly seven years (April 2008). This is 2.0 points lower than the previous year and 0.2 points lower than the previous month. San Diego’s unemployment rate remained below the U.S. average of 5.6 percent and well-below the California average of 6.5 percent. The region also experienced labor force growth. More than 3,000 people were added to the region's labor force from March 2014 to March 2015, indicating that the continued drop in unemployment is likely due to a healthy economy rather than a dwindling labor force.

[Unemployment Chart]

When looking at monthly or seasonal employment, San Diego County employers added 8,000 jobs from February to March. Construction accounted for a quarter of this monthly growth, adding 1,500 jobs from February to March. Tourism , health care and private education industries also experienced high seasonal growth, while retail and wholesale trade experienced slight seasonal declines.

From a year-to-year or non-seasonal perspective, the region’s economy is showing signs of picking up the pace. Total non-farm employment grew by 40,900 jobs from March 2014 to March 2015­—a 3.1 percent growth rate. This exceeds the U.S. growth rate of 2.3 percent. In all three months to date in 2015, the region recorded annual job growth of more than three percent, compared to 2014 when not a single month exceeded three percent annual growth.

[Employment Chart]

The private sector economy accounted for 92 percent of the year-to-year job growth and grew by 3.4 percent. This rate also outpaced the U.S. growth rate, which was 2.7 percent over that same period. This job growth continued to be fueled by key sectors. Construction jobs grew by 7.4 percent and added 4,600 jobs. One of the region’s key manufacturing sectors ship and boat building grew by 18.7 percent and added 1,100 jobs. 

Innovation service sectors also continued to show high job growth. The professional, scientific and technical services (PST) sector grew by 7.2 percent year-to-year, and accounted for approximately a quarter of the 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 8.4 percent since last March.

[PST Chart]

The region’s tourism continued to show high year-to-year growth as well. The leisure and hospitality industry added 7,300 jobs over that period, which is about 4.3 percent growth. Food service and drinking places accounted for 7,000 of those jobs. Private and public education services experienced high seasonal and non-seasonal growth. Education services added 1,400 year-to-year jobs (4.5 percent growth) while state and local government education added 2,500 year-to-year jobs (3.0 percent growth).

The March labor market report was all around positive. Low unemployment, high job growth and a growing labor force are all excellent signs of burgeoning regional economy. More importantly, this growth continues to be driven by key sectors to the region's economy. Continued rapid growth in construction indicates that regional builders are constructing important infrastructure to address a growing economy. Furthermore, the region's key high-wage and innovative sectors are driving private sector growth. The region is far outpacing the state and nation in these important metrics, all good signs for the year ahead.

[Growth Chart]

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.