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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

September 2014 U.S. Metro Employment Comparison

November 3, 2014

Earlier this month, EDC released its Manpower Monthly Employment Report. Since then, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released September 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 5.9 percent, San Diego’s unemployment rate ranked 16th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros.
  • From September 2013 to September 2014, San Diego's unemployment rate fell by -1.4 percentage points, which ranked 8th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros.
  • Since the end of the recession (June 2009), San Diego's unemployment rate has fallen by 4.1 percentage points, which is greater than the U.S. average.
  • San Diego's employment grew by more than 2.5 percent from September 2013 to September 2014, which ranked 9th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros.
  • From September 2013 to September 2014, San Diego's employment in professional, scientific and technical services (PST) grew by 7.2 percent, the 2nd fastest growth among major U.S. metros.
  • Manufacturing in San Diego grew more than 2.6 percent from the previous year, which is faster than both the overall employment growth and the U.S. manufacturing average.

[Unemployment Chart]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released employment data for the September 2014 period for all U.S. metro areas. At 5.9 percent, San Diego County’s unemployment rate fell by 1.4 points from this time last year. San Diego's rate ranked 16th among major U.S. metros and was slightly above the U.S. overall rate of 5.7 percent. However, San Diego's rate fell faster than most. San Diego's percentage point change from September 2013 to September 2014 ranked 8th among major U.S. metros. While the unemployment rate in San Diego was higher than some of the region's key peer metros, it still fared better than other California metros like Los Angeles and Riverside, and fell roughly in the middle of the 25 most populous U.S. metros.

[Employment Chart]

When looking at employment growth, San Diego fared better than most. From September 2013 to September 2014, the region's employment grew by more than 2.5 percent, which ranked 9th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros. The U.S. average growth rate was less than 2 percent, and only two U.S. metros, Houston and Dallas, grew by more than 3 percent.

[PST Chart]

While San Diego's overall growth is very positive, we saw more explosive growth in one of the region's most important sectors. Professional, scientific and technical services (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. From September 2013 to September 2014, employment in the region's PST sector grew by 7.2 percent, more than double the U.S. average of 3.2 percent. San Diego ranked second among the 25 most populous U.S. metros in this measure, which is a positive sign for the region's key traded clusters.

[MFG Chart]

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 September 2013 to September 2014, manufacturing employment grew by 2.6 percent, which was faster than the region's overall growth rate. San Diego's manufacturing employment grew at twice the rate of the U.S., and recorded the 9th highest growth rate among major U.S. metros. 

As we discussed in the Manpower Monthly Employment Report earlier this month, San Diego's economy is experiencing strong positive employment growth. That point is even more apparent now that we can observe that growth in the context of San Diego's peers. While the unemployment rate isn't as comparatively low as we would like to have seen, Summer-to-Fall seasonal effects are often felt more strongly in San Diego, given the region's large tourism industry. We've generally seen the unemployment rate track at or below the U.S. average, and don't expect that to change much in the near future.

Thank you to Manpower-SD for their ongoing support of EDC's employment trends research.