Economy in crisis: Fresh thinking on career advancement is needed

THE TAKEAWAYS

  • Fresh thinking on career advancement is needed in order to create a more resilient San Diego economy.
  • San Diego’s lowest-paid workers were the first to be let go during the COVID downturn and will likely be the last to be called back to work.
  • Upskilling and reskilling employees in lower-paying sectors like retail and leisure and hospitality will improve living standards and help businesses in other industries find qualified talent without draining the pool of workers for retailers, restaurants, and bars.
  • Colleges and universities will need to rethink curricular requirements in order to adapt to the changing needs of the business community.

San Diego’s economy has emerged from the depths of the COVID downturn, but the road to a full recovery is looking longer (and bumpier) than many expected. A second wave of business shutdowns and restrictions amid a rise in positive cases last month portends a significant weakening in the outlook heading into late summer and fall.

The unexpected and historically severe drag on San Diego’s job market since March underscores the need to build a more resilient workforce that can better weather future downturns. More than half of the 223,700 jobs shed between February and April were in leisure and hospitality and retail alone. These jobs could be slow to come back, since shops, restaurants, bars, and venues won’t be able to operate at full capacity until an effective and safe vaccine has been widely produced and distributed—something that’s not expected until at least early next year.

THE MOST VULNERABLE HAVE BECOME THE MOST VULNERABLE…AGAIN

Other sectors have undoubtedly been rocked by the economic shockwave of the COVID pandemic, but retail and leisure and hospitality workers were especially susceptible, particularly those in accommodation and food services. Not only were they the first to be let go, but many will likely the last to be rehired. What’s worse, San Diego’s accommodation and food service employees made just over $30,000, on average, last year compared to about $74,000 for all workers.

The outsize damage to leisure and retail is not isolated to just the past few months. Both industries have historically been more volatile over the past few decades. During the Great Recession of 2007-2009, total nonfarm employment in San Diego fell 8.9%. However, retail employment tumbled 16.2% and leisure and hospitality gave up 14.1%. It stands to reason that a similar dynamic could play out when the next downturn inevitably arrives.

TAPPING INTO NEW TALENT

Tourism, which includes retailers, accommodation, and eating and drinking establishments, is a large and important piece of the economic pie (pun intended) here in San Diego. Luckily, tourism-related industries have a huge supply of readily available workers. Upskilling and reskilling of many of the employees looking to get out of hospitality could expand the base of workers in relatively higher-paying, less volatile occupations without draining the pool of qualified workers for local restaurants, bars, and hotels. This could be extended to retail and other lower-paying sectors and would simultaneously improve living standards while alleviating stress on local employers who can’t find qualified talent in non-tourism fields. It would likely keep a greater number of people employed during future downturns, too.

Looking at job postings data for the region, local employers have had a tough time filling roles in a wide variety of occupations. Software developer and engineering roles are ubiquitous on lists like these, but it extends well beyond the buzzy positions du jour and includes others like marketing managers, sales reps, and truck drivers. The average annual pay for these and other in-demand positions is over $63,000 per year versus $36,720 for jobs where more than enough applicants can apply.

SO, WHAT’S THE CATCH?

As usual, the devil’s in the details. Even after things begin to normalize, walking out on one’s barista job to immediately pursue a post-secondary degree in electrical engineering typically isn’t an option. Consequently, career advancement would have to occur more gradually and require some serious curricular agility from local colleges and universities.

EDC’s Advancing San Diego initiative is exploring a viable path forward. The initiative serves to boost lower-paid employees into more stable, higher paying jobs with greater potential for upward mobility, called “lifeboat jobs.” An example would be someone like a forklift operator at a local factory who could ultimately climb the rungs into Operations Management.

With better connectivity to academia, business leaders can begin to communicate the specific skills required to successfully perform lifeboat jobs in any number of high-demand positions. Then, local colleges and universities could build out “micro-credential” certificates or academic programs designed to prepare workers in a matter of weeks—rather than years—to take on those jobs.

Given the deeply-seeded roots of tradition in academia, this would likely emerge most immediately as a strategy in the universe of Continuing or Extended Studies. However, the swiftly evolving landscape of business in the 21st century seems to suggest that a more targeted and flexible approach to general coursework would provide the best value for students (and parents) and would also be of great service to businesses looking for a reliable pipeline of skilled workers upon graduation.

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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COVID-19 Survey Results: Anticipated impacts become reality, minority owned businesses hit hard, and workspace changes will continue

Earlier this year, we deployed a survey to assess the immediate economic impacts and evolving business sentiment in the wake of COVID-19.

To assess changes over time, we have deployed a follow-up survey with our partners at San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center. The Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce also served as survey partners. Information collected was from May 28 – June 8 and includes 194 valid responses.

Three trends stood out based on what employers told us:

  1. Anticipated revenue declines and staff reductions confirmed by businesses; 41 percent of businesses surveyed saw revenues decline by 81 to 100%, 93 percent saw  staffing declines of one to 50 employees.
  1. Minority owned businesses are hardest hit but may lead recovery. Long term, minority owned businesses anticipate continuing workspace changes (56 percent), teleworking (41 percent), offering online services (34 percent), and virtual programming and team building.
  1. Telework is here to stay, with 47 percent of firm surveyed reporting workspace changes to continue after the state of emergency is over.

Understanding COVID-19’s impact: an interactive visualization

Below is an interactive visualization of self-reported impacts to local employers, both in terms of employment and revenue. You can segment the data by industry, number of employees, and typical annual revenue. Additionally, please scroll over the tab to look at the breakdown of responses via zip code. Please note, this is not a representative sample – meaning we did not weigh responses operationally to the population and demographics of the region – so we strongly advise against drawing sub-regional conclusions from this data.

Survey Overview

The economic impacts of this crisis disproportionately affect the parts of our community that are disconnected from growth: communities of color and small businesses. The right recovery means focusing on efforts that benefit all San Diegans in this unique moment in time.

The overwhelming majority of firms surveyed (93 percent) were small businesses (fewer than 100 employees) and most (73 percent) had revenues of less than $1 million in 2019. Survey respondents were concentrated in the food and beverage, professional services, manufacturing, and retail industries.

Nearly 93 percent of firms surveyed saw their revenue decline, with most (41 percent) declining by 81 to 100 percent. However, more than one third expect revenues to return to 2019 levels in six to 12 months. The majority cut back on payrolls, with nearly 74 percent reducing staff hours and 60 percent reducing staff. The food and beverage industry had the most (19 percent) full time layoffs, followed by professional services (17 percent). Overall, most firms in all industries expect layoffs to be temporary, but 32 percent are still unsure. The uncertainty might be due to growing concern that the economy will fully reopen within the coming summer months, but a second wave in the fall will turn temporary layoffs into permanent ones.

Nearly 87 percent of firms surveyed applied for government (federal, state, or city) or private (company grants or bank loans) funding, and 70 percent who applied received funding. Firms that received private (company grants or bank loans) funding received more than $260,000 on average and firms that received government funding received more than $245,000 on average

Firms located in the opportunity zone represent 12 percent of survey respondents, or 24 businesses. In terms of access to capital, nearly 63 percent of firms located in an Opportunity Zone cited access to capital as a long term need in response to COVID-19, while 43 percent of all survey respondents cited access to capital as a long term need.

When asked about the changes a firm has experienced as a result of the pandemic, the top response was “scope of work”, which indicates firms are adjusting their business models and changing the range in which they operate in response to COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, in the short-term, businesses’ greatest needs are increased revenues and additional capital. While many businesses are unsure of the longer-term impact, they still anticipate needing capital and replacing staff.

Anticipated Revenue Declines and Staffing Reductions Confirmed

Most anticipated revenue impacts in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were realized, even as reopening continues across San Diego County. More than 95 percent of businesses surveyed that expected their revenue to decline saw an actual decline in their revenue. Nearly 97 percent of businesses that expected their revenue to decline by 81 to 100 percent saw an actual decline of that amount.

Most anticipated staffing impacts in the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic were realized as well. More than 73 percent of firms surveyed who anticipated staff reductions actually reduced their staff. Most staff reductions were between 1 and 50 employees. More than 78 percent of those that anticipated staff reductions of one to 50 employees actually saw these reductions.

Minority-Owned Businesses

A new report shows that because minority owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, they may demonstrate how US businesses will ultimately adapt. These businesses are experimenting with new ways of working to ensure their employees’ safety, offering relief to employees and community members, and introducing new services. In San Diego, the top adjustments minority owned businesses made in response to the pandemic that are working well are workspace changes (56 percent), teleworking (41 percent), offering online services (34 percent), and virtual programming and team building.

There were 44 minority owned businesses that responded to the survey. Nearly all (98 percent) of minority owned businesses surveyed were small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. These businesses are concentrated in professional services, food and beverage, manufacturing, and retail – the industries hardest hit by COVID-19. The latest employment data shows that from February to June 2020, local retail, food and beverage, and professional services lost a combined 86,200 jobs. More than 90 percent of minority owned businesses have seen their revenue decline, with most experiencing steep revenue declines of 81 to 100 percent.

Workspace Future

In order to keep operating, many businesses have made changes to their physical workspace and/or are have employees working remotely. Firms surveyed expect to maintain these arrangements even after the state of emergency is lifted. Nearly 76 percent of firms surveyed report physical space as critical for operation, with most of those businesses in food and beverage, professional services, and manufacturing. Only seven percent of firms reported the pandemic has shown them that office space is unnecessary. Firms were split in regards to whether physical workspace will decrease, increase, or remain the same in the future.

Resources for you

San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and San Diego and Imperial SBDC offer a variety of resources to help businesses.

If you would like assistance from EDC, please use this form. Once we receive your responses, we will make every effort to reach out to you within 24 hours.

Request EDC assistance

If you are looking for general information about COVID-19, please view this page.

You can view last week’s COVID-19 survey results, as well as a full screen dashboard, here.

COVID-19 Survey Results: Revenue impacts continue, but most firms favor temporary shutdowns over permanent closures

In order to assess immediate economic impacts and understand the evolving business sentiment surrounding COVID-19, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and San Diego Regional EDC, in partnership with San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center, Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce, developed a survey.

Three trends stood out based on what employers told us during the first four weeks of surveying. These findings are based on responses from 692 companies across the San Diego region:

  1. Few firms surveyed have closed permanently, but temporary shutdowns are increasing. Only about 1% of survey respondents have permanently closed their business, but 42% have temporarily shut down operations. This is encouraging, since the number of local business closures could have a direct bearing on the pace of recovery once the COVID crisis subsides. Businesses that have permanently closed their doors are in a range of industries, including biotech and pharmaceuticals, cleantech, food and beverage, manufacturing, professional services, and retail.
  2. Vulnerable industries expect revenue impacts to continue. The industries in San Diego most vulnerable to the effects of policies aimed at containing the spread of the virus include arts and entertainment, food and beverage, retail, and tourism. Compared to when the survey began in mid-March, more firms in these industries increasingly expect revenue impacts to occur over the next 1-3 months, rather than immediately. The perception by business owners that the economic and financial pain of the crisis could last longer than initially expected will likely be reflected as an effective moratorium on business investment and hiring in the near term.
  3. More businesses seek financial assistance and access to capital. Compared to earlier survey results, more businesses are expressing interest in financing and capital to cope with the massive revenue shortfalls associated with COVID-19.

Understanding COVID-19’s impact: an interactive visualization

Below is an interactive visualization of self-reported impacts to local employers, both in terms of employment and revenue. You can segment the data by industry, number of employees, and typical annual revenue. Additionally, please scroll over the tab to look at the breakdown of responses via zip code. Please note, this is not a representative sample – meaning we did not weight responses proportionately to the population and demographics of the region – so we strongly advise against drawing sub-regional conclusions from this data.

Respondent Profile

For up-to-date information on the survey respondents and high level results, please view the responding profile here.

  • Number of responses: 692

Resources for you

San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and San Diego and Imperial SBDC offer a variety of resources to help businesses.

If you would like assistance from EDC, please use this form. Once we receive your responses, we will make every effort to reach out to you within 24 hours.

Request EDC assistance

You can view last week’s COVID-19 survey results, as well as a full screen dashboard, here.
If you are looking for general information about COVID-19, please view this page.
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COVID-19 Survey Results: Impacts are vast, amidst signs of resiliency

In order to assess immediate economic impacts and understand the evolving business sentiment, we have deployed a survey with our partners at San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center. The Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce also served as survey partners. The survey will remain open for the foreseeable future so we can chart how responses change over time.

Three trends stood out based on what employers told us during the first three weeks of surveying:

  1. Impacts are vast. 379 employers plan to eliminate 14,524 jobs; 68% of their combined workforce.
  1. Small businesses are embracing remote work. More than 85% of firms with remote workers are small businesses. Overall, 42% of employers surveyed are having employees work remotely.
  1. Firms are still hiring. More than 11% of firms are still planning to fill positions. Nearly 19% of those firms still hiring are in the professional service industry.

Understanding COVID-19’s impact: an interactive visualization

Below is an interactive visualization of self-reported impacts to local employers, both in terms of employment and revenue. You can segment the data by industry, number of employees, and typical annual revenue. Additionally, please scroll over the tab to look at the breakdown of responses via zipcode. Please note, this is not a representative sample – meaning we did not weight responses operationally to the population and demographics of the region – so we strongly advise against drawing sub-regional conclusions from this data.

Respondent Profile

For up-to-date respondent information on the survey respondents and high level results, please view the responding profile here.
Other key numbers:

      • Number of responses: 681

Covid-19 Survey Results_San Diego_ April 8

Resources for you

San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and San Diego and Imperial SBDC offer a variety of resources to help businesses.

If you would like assistance from EDC, please use this form. Once we receive your responses, we will make every effort to reach out to you within 24 hours.

Request EDC assistance

If you are looking for general information about COVID-19, please view this page.

You can view last week’s COVID-19 survey results, as well as a full screen dashboard, here.

COVID-19 Survey Results: Immediate impacts are concentrated, severe, and hit small business & low wage workers hardest

More than 86% of businesses in San Diego expect to see revenue losses in the wake of COVID-19, according to an economic impact survey on the San Diego economy.

In order to assess immediate economic impacts and understand the evolving business sentiment, we have deployed a survey with our partners at San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Imperial Small Business Development Center. The Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce also served as survey partners. The survey will remain open for the foreseeable future so we can chart how responses change over time.

Key Takeaways

Three trends stood out based on what employers told us during the first two weeks of surveying:

  1. Impacts are concentrated by industry. Of the 360 employers planning to reduce staff, 80% are in the food and beverage or tourism industries.
  1. Impacts are immediate. Nearly 94% of employers anticipating staffing reductions and two-thirds of those expecting revenue declines expect those hits within 30 days.
  1. Impacts disproportionately affect small businesses. Employers with annual revenues below $1M anticipate average losses in income of nearly 70%, compared with an average loss of 51% for businesses earning more than $1M annually.

A majority of employers (61%) are in need of capital support. More than half of those with capital needs are the smallest of employers with fewer than 5 employees.

AN Interactive Visualization

Below is an interactive visualization of self-reported impacts to local employers, both in terms of employment and revenue. You can segment the data by industry, number of employees, and typical annual revenue

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and the majority of the Chamber’s membership. They account for 98 percent of businesses in the region. Our focus now more than ever is on those small businesses. We are working with local and federal officials to ensure our region’s businesses have what they need to weather this storm. We are focused on resiliency and recovery.

Jerry Sanders, president & CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Respondent Profile

For up-to-date respondent information on the survey respondents and high level results, please view the responding profile here.
Other key numbers:

  • Number of responses: 642
  • Number of responses in this analysis: 642

While the impacts of COVID-19 are rippling through the entire region, the survey shows that small businesses – which are responsible for a majority of our economic growth – are disproportionately impacted. It’s a long road to recovery, and I want to remind you that EDC’s staff is here to help you access loans and grants, and work one-on-one to triage issues as they arise.

Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC

Resources for you

San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and San Diego and Imperial SBDC offer a variety of resources to help businesses.

If you would like assistance from EDC, please use this form. Once we receive your responses, we will make every effort to reach out to you within 24 hours.

Request EDC assistance

If you are looking for general information about COVID-19, please view this page.

All of us at the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network know this public health crisis is hitting you, the small business owner, very hard. Know we are here to help. We are still providing all our services, just online. You can still visit SDIVSBDC.org and click “request counseling” to get assistance. We are here to help you apply for capital and work through the ways you now have to pivot to get through this time where we all have to be physically distant from one another.

Danny Fitzgerald, San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center

 

*industries include retail trade (excluding groceries and gas stations), wholesale trade, arts & entertainment, accommodation & food services.