As a non-profit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.
We sat down with Maritza Diaz, CEO at ITJ, to discuss the company’s work to create technology centers of excellence in Mexico. Check out the investor spotlight below!
Tell us about ITJ and its mission.
ITJ is a binational U.S.-Mexican company founded in 2019 with the mission to enable U.S. companies to create technology centers of excellence in Mexico. ITJ serves fast-growing and high-value market sectors, particularly in Life Sciences, Biotechnology, and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), working with innovative medical device companies to improve people’s lives.
With a unique BOT (build, operate, and transfer) model that sources only the best digital talent available, ITJ empowers its partners to accelerate their digital innovation.
Why San Diego?
San Diego is recognized as one of the leading high-tech hubs in the U.S. Uniquely located in the Cali Baja region and home to more than 1,225 life sciences companies and 80 independent and university-affiliated research institutes, the symbiosis between San Diego and Tijuana has been crucial to building a prominent mega-region in the Life Sciences industry.
Tell us about ITJ’s collaboration and partnership with San Diego Regional EDC.
During our partnership, we have witnessed EDC’s extensive expertise and network—becoming a key player in our strategic goals for imperative growth.
Looking ahead, what is on the horizon for ITJ?
In June we celebrated the company’s third anniversary, and we have good reason to celebrate. Since 2019, ITJ has created over 700 tech jobs serving U.S.-based companies and has grown our client base five-fold. In addition, with significant inroads in the Life Sciences, Healthcare, and Medical Device industries, ITJ has doubled its revenue in the past two years.
Furthermore, we are excited to announce that ITJ is opening its new offices in a state-of-the-art business building in Tijuana this month.
Presented by Meyers Nave, this edition of San Diego’s Data Bites covers March 2022, with data on employment and more insights about the region’s economy at this moment in time. Check out EDC’s Research Bureau for even more data and stats about San Diego.
San Diego employers added 8,000 nonfarm payroll positions between February and March, lowering the unemployment rate to 3.4 percent from a revised 4.0 percent from one month ago.
Compared to March 2021, total nonfarm employment increased by 103,600, or 7.4 percent. 49,900 additional jobs in Leisure and Hospitality led year-ago employment gains, with Professional and Business services adding 20,600 positions.
Employment in San Diego lags pre-pandemic levels by only 14,000 jobs, with Leisure and Hospitality accounting for 9,000 missing payroll positions. However, industries in San Diego’s innovation economy are well ahead of where they were before COVID-19.
Unemployment rate drops below four percent in March 2022
The March employment report showed that San Diego establishments added 8,000 nonfarm payroll positions compared to February, with 5,000 of these jobs in Leisure and Hospitality. State and Local Government was the next-closest industry experiencing employment gains, with 2,000 additional jobs. These additions to San Diego’s economy drove the unemployment rate lower by 0.6 percentage points, from a revised 4.0 percent in February to 3.4 percent in March.
Health Care and Social Assistance lost the most jobs between February and March, dropping 1,300 payroll positions. Although Ambulatory Health Care Services accounted for 1,100 of the lost jobs, the industry employed more people in March 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. These lost jobs could be the result of lower transmission and infection rates of COVID, requiring fewer employees to manage workloads.
Leisure and Hospitality continues to lead year-ago employment gains
Overall, San Diego employers added 103,600 nonfarm payroll positions from March 2021 to March 2022. Leisure and Hospitality accounted for 49,900 of these jobs, which is not surprising considering that companies in this industry cluster were the hardest hit by the pandemic. The fact that businesses engaged in Accommodation and Food Services are adding more jobs with each new jobs report is a sign that San Diego is recovering well from the troughs of the pandemic. Furthermore, not a single one of the industry clusters that the EDD tracks (e.g. Leisure and Hospitality and Professional and Business Services) showed year-ago jobs losses, providing further evidence of the steady recovery of San Diego’s economy back to pre-pandemic levels. Professional and Business Services added 20,600 positions to San Diego’s economy, a 7.9 percent increase over last year’s levels. As part of San Diego’s innovation economy, industries such as Scientific Research and Development Services tend to be comprised of quality jobs, those that offer economic security by paying a wage that keeps up with the cost of living and providing employer-sponsored health benefits. Some sub-industries, however, did shed jobs compared to a year ago, such as Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (down 2,300 jobs) and Durable Goods manufacturing (down 2,000 jobs).
Employment in San Diego lags pre-pandemic levels by only 14,000 jobs
San Diego’s total nonfarm employment ended March 2022 at 1,501,100 jobs, which is 14,000 shy of pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. Although employment in Leisure and Hospitality is still 9,000 jobs lower than before COVID-19, this industry cluster has consistently led the pack in each monthly jobs report, meaning that pre-pandemic levels are just within reach. This is a strong indicator of the region’s economic recovery and health, as Accommodation and Food Services companies were the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Employment in other industry clusters, including those that drive San Diego’s innovation economy, has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Professional and Business Services has added almost 20,000 positions to the region’s economy from February 2020, with 7,300 of these jobs belonging to Scientific Research and Development Services. Jobs in these industries often have a high concentration of high paying quality jobs. The record year that San Diego experienced with respect to venture capital—especially in Tech and Life Sciences companies—should result in even more hiring by these companies throughout 2022.
However, the economic stimulus over the course of the pandemic has resulted in the highest inflation seen for quite some time, with the 12-month inflation rate reaching 8.5 percent in March. This led the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates by 25 basis points, with expectations of more to come. These expectations have translated into a decreased appetite for borrowing and investment, slowing the record pace at which San Diego is attracting venture capital dollars.
In fact, investment in Series A, seed, angel, and growth stages totaled just over $1 billion in Q1 2022, a far cry from the $2.7 billion in Q1 last year. Though the rate at which money is flowing into San Diego Tech and Life Sciences companies is slowing, the region will feel the ripple effects of the record-setting year in 2021 for some time to come. For example, the current demand for lab space in San Diego County is triple the amount of new deliveries that are expected in the next 12 months. As these Life Sciences companies move into new commercial space in the region, they will need to hire for newly created positions, many of which are high-paying quality jobs.
However, San Diego companies across all industries are engaged in a bitter competition for talent. Not only do high levels of inflation make San Diego a more expensive place to live, but a white-hot housing market has sent home prices through the roof, with the median home price reaching $950,000 in March, a 19 percent increase from one year ago. This high cost of living in San Diego is a tax that deters talent from staying in or relocating to the region. By addressing San Diego’s affordability crisis and building San Diego’s talent pipeline, employers can do their part to bolster the region’s resiliency and global competitiveness.
As a nonprofit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.
We sat down with Neil Bence, vice president of oncology discovery and San Diego site head at Bristol Myers Squibb, to discuss the company’s mission to combat serious diseases with life-changing medicines. Check out its Investor Spotlight below!
Tell us about Bristol Myers Squibb and its mission.
Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.
Protein degradation is a core strength for BMS R&D, and we are building on our legacy and scientific expertise to discover and develop therapeutic approaches in blood cancers, solid tumors, and other important therapeutic areas. Protein degradation is the process by which proteins are destroyed in a cell; with targeted protein degradation, our researchers are harnessing the cell’s own machinery to degrade several whole new classes of proteins that were previously considered “undruggable.”
Why San Diego?
San Diego is an important hub for innovation and we are committed to our presence and leadership in the vibrant life sciences ecosystem. Our location in San Diego allows our scientists to leverage state-of-the-art technologies to profile diseases and activate biopharma and academic partnerships earlier in discovery and development.
Recently, BMS announced the execution of a long-term lease for the development of a new R&D facility—an iconic 427,000 square foot world-class building at Alexandria Point. Bringing our four sites together into a single building will accelerate collaboration across all research groups and drive BMS’ commitment to bringing critical medicines to patients living with serious illnesses.
We wanted to pursue a San Diego site footprint that encourages collaboration and cultural integration, enables organic growth, and promotes agility to pursue new scientific opportunities. Our extensive San Diego R&D campus houses several distinct industry capabilities, including our Oncogenesis Thematic Research Center, Discovery Biotherapeutics, Medicinal Chemistry, and Nonclinical Research and Development teams.
In San Diego, BMS scientists are focused on the exploration of novel biology and target concepts such as protein degradation and complex biologics. This research is to better understand the complexities of cancer, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative diseases in order to advance the next generation of therapies to help treat these diseases which currently have high unmet needs.
How is BMS improving access to quality care of medically under-resourced patients in San Diego?
BMS is united by a critical mission: Transforming patients’ lives through science. As an inclusive, patient-centered, global biopharmaceutical company, we are committed to doing our part to help advance health equity and deliver innovative medicines that improve the health outcomes of medically underserved and increasingly diverse patient populations. We have been on a health equity journey for many years—continuously building on and expanding our tools to meaningfully tackle health inequities in the U.S. and worldwide.
In August 2020, we announced our $150 million investment over five years to address health disparities, increase clinical trial diversity, expand supplier diversity, increase workforce representation, and enhance employee giving in support of social justice organizations. We remain deeply committed to doing our part to help transform patients’ lives around the world.
BMS recently announced nearly $8 million in new health equity grants to 24 U.S. nonprofits focused on improving access to quality care for medically underserved communities, including the American Lung Association and Dia De La Mujer Latina which have a presence in San Diego, that work with community health workers and patient navigators to increase access among medically underserved patients and communities. The grants are intended to bolster community outreach and engagement, increase care coordination services and to ensure an ethnically diverse, culturally competent community health worker and patient navigator workforce. Grant recipients span across BMS’ therapeutic areas of focus—oncology, cardiology, immunology, and hematology—as well as health equity programs that serve a range of medically underserved patient populations, including Black and African American, Latino and Hispanic, AAPI, LGBTQIA+, and rural communities.
Tell us about BMS’ collaboration and partnership with San Diego Regional EDC.
Bristol Myers Squibb shares San Diego Regional EDC’s mission to invest in local life sciences organizations for the economic prosperity of the region. BMS appreciates the support and partnership of EDC to keep the organization and talent apprised of key economic developments in the region that allow BMS to remain an employer of choice. The team at EDC is collaborative and responsive to our evolving needs.
Looking ahead, what is on the horizon for BMS?
We’re looking forward to bringing together our four current San Diego sites into a single, newly constructed facility. Our vision is to continue to be a major research hub with incredible opportunities for scientific discovery throughout and following this transition.
Overall, it is an exciting time to be at BMS. In the year ahead, we are excited about the growth opportunities in our in-line brands and new product portfolio as well as our powerful innovation engine driving a broad early-stage pipeline. With more than 50 assets in our early-stage pipeline and the opportunity for more than 20 proof of concept decisions over the next three years, BMS is advancing one of the most exciting pipelines in the industry, amplified by our strong external partnerships.
Presented by Meyers Nave, this edition of San Diego’s Data Bites covers January and February 2022, as well as an additional update on annual benchmark revisions, with data on employment and more insights about the region’s economy at this moment in time. Check out EDC’s Research Bureau for even more data and stats about San Diego.
San Diego’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.7 percentage points–from a revised 4.7 percent in January to 4 percent in February–with nonfarm employment increasing by 16,500 payroll positions.
Employers in the region added more than 104,000 payroll positions since February 2021–with Service Providing industries accounting for 102,600 of the added jobs–lowering the unemployment rate by 3.7 percentage points.
Annual benchmark revisions to employment data show that the region’s economy was recovering more rapidly than initially believed. Specifically, revisions to nonfarm employment for December 2021 improved the jobs count by more than 40,000 workers.
Service Providing industries lead month-ago and year-ago changes
February’s jobs report painted a positive picture for the San Diego regional economy. With respect to changes from January to February, nonfarm employment increased by 16,500, driving the unemployment rate lower to 4 percent from a revised 4.7 percent in January. Service Providing industries led the pack in employment gains, as Professional and Business Services added 6,100 jobs, Educational and Health Services added 4,800 jobs, and Leisure and Hospitality added 4,200 jobs. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities dropped 2,700 jobs, however, with employers in Retail Trade shedding 2,300 payroll positions. Manufacturing industries also had a down month, with losses of 1,000 jobs in Durable Goods production.
Service Providing industries were also the leaders in year-ago employment gains from February 2021, adding more than 104,000 jobs to the region. The slow and steady employment gains over the last year have resulted in the unemployment rate dropping by almost four percentage points from a revised 7.9 percent in February 2021 to 4 percent in February 2022. Within the Service Providing sector, Leisure and Hospitality added 52,700 positions, which is a good sign of recovery as these companies were the hardest hit during the pandemic. Employers in Professional and Business services also added 21,100 payroll positions, 9,300 of which were in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. These gains were not felt across all industries, however, as Durable Goods manufacturing lost 1,900 jobs from February 2021.
February employment inches closer to pre-pandemic levels
Looking at changes from February 2020 to February 2022 shows that the region is getting ever closer to pre-pandemic levels, a good sign for the recovery of San Diego’s economy. Total nonfarm employment is only about 25,000 (1.64 percent) lower than before the pandemic. Over half of these missing jobs are in Leisure and Hospitality, as the industry shows 14,000 fewer jobs in February 2022 than the same month in 2020, a gap of around 7 percent. Durable goods manufacturing is also exhibiting signs of a slower recovery with 6,200 fewer payroll positions than before the pandemic, or about 7 percent lower.
Despite some industries still playing catch-up, many have surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels. Professional and Business Services employers have added 19,300 payroll positions since February 2020, an increase of 7.4 percent. Notably, Administrative and Support and Waste Services have added 11,000 jobs (up 12.4 percent) while Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services have increased employment by 8,900 (up 6.05 percent). Speaking to San Diego’s position as a leader in Innovation and Life Sciences, companies in Scientific Research and Development Services have added 7,300 jobs since the start of the pandemic, an increase of more than 20 percent. With a hiring frenzy in innovation-related industries in full force, it is imperative for our region’s competitiveness that we continue to bolster the supply of the skilled labor that San Diego companies demand.
Annual revisions show employment was greater during 2021 than first believed
Every March, the California Employment Development Division works with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to revise employment data, a process called benchmarking. Depending on the year and the difficulties in gathering accurate employment data, these revisions might be significant. For reasons that should be unsurprising by now, 2021 was one such year.
What is striking about these revisions is the increasing underestimation of employment throughout 2021. Although January’s revised employment count was only about 500 greater than original estimates, the number had grown to 40,600 by December 2021. Put another way, original estimates were about 3 percent lower than the revised numbers. While this may seem like a trivial distinction, it does indicate that San Diego’s economic recovery was even stronger than originally believed. In fact, the industries that were most impacted by the pandemic reported some of largest upward revisions.
Leisure and Hospitality had 14,600 more jobs in December 2021 with the revised numbers (an upward revision of 8.7 percent), being driven by 8,500 jobs in Accommodation and Food Services (an upward revision of 5.8 percent). Revisions increased the employment count in Professional and Business Services by 12,100 (an upward revision of 4.5 percent), largely attributable to changes in Administrative and Support Services (an upward revision of 7,400, or 8.7 percent). All industries did not show an increase due to the annual revisions, however. Employment in Construction was lowered by 2,900 jobs (a downward revision of 3.4 percent) while the jobs count in Retail Trade was decreased by 2,100 jobs (a downward revision of 1.4 percent).
Presented by Meyers Nave, this edition of San Diego’s Data Bites covers December 2021, with data on employment and more insights about the region’s economy at this moment in time. Check out EDC’s Research Bureau for even more data and stats about San Diego.
San Diego’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in December from 4.6 percent in November; the number of people unemployed is nearly half of what it was a year ago.
A banner year in venture capital funding appears to be driving job growth in Scientific Research and Development Services, which ended 2021 up 13.6 percent.
The demand for skilled workers far exceeds the current supply of talent within the region. Key positions that employers are hiring for have high salaries and educational requirements.
Job losses and lower labor force participation in December
San Diego saw its unemployment rate fall again in December to 4.2 percent, however labor force participation declined as well. Compared to December 2020,there are now 56,900 fewer people unemployed. While many have returned to work as evidenced by the strong job growth throughout 2021, more than 65,000 people continue to be out of work. The region’s unemployment rate remains below that of the state and above the national average, 5.0 percent and 3.7 percent respectively, as it has been throughout the year.
Total nonfarm employment dropped by 1,200 jobs in December. Construction and Healthcare and Social Assistance experienced the greatest monthly declines, each shedding 2,400 payroll positions. However, many of the job losses were offset by gains in other sectors. Professional and Business Services led the way with 4,100 jobs added in December and is now up 5.3 percent from December 2020. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities also increased by 2,500 jobs, driven by Retail Trade, which boosted the overall sector with 1,200 jobs.
Record venture capital funding is propelling job growth
In 2021, the region pulled in nearly $9 billion of venture funding dwarfing anything seen in years past. While the biggest venture capital deals have gone toward technology startups, San Diego Life Sciences companies pulled in $1.6 billion more than their tech counterparts throughout the year. The surge of venture capital dollars is beginning to translate into faster job growth in San Diego.
Scientific Research and Development Services added 1,700 jobs in December after averaging monthly gains of just 300 jobs during the first 11 months of 2021 and is now up 5,200, or 13.6 percent, compared to a year ago. This represents a rapid acceleration from the 7.0 percent growth rate of previous five years. Looking further back, we see that the industry has nearly doubled its contribution to the regional economy, which was slightly above $5 billion in 2010 and is now about $9.7 billion.
While an additional 5,200 jobs in a high paying industry is certainly welcome, an analysis of job postings suggests that San Diego employers were trying to hire as many as 39,000 more workers in 2021. The demand is mostly for high-skilled, high-paying positions. In fact, more than 21 percent of jobs in the industry are concentrated in just four occupations: medical scientists, biochemists and biophysicists, project management specialists, and software developers. Importantly, all these positions typically require a four-year college degree at the entry-level.
Employers have reported increasing difficulty hiring throughout the year, leaving the region woefully undersupplied in terms of the talent needed to sustain industry growth. Ensuring that the region is an affordable one is paramount to attracting and retaining talent. In the long-term, San Diego must invest in the next generation workforce and develop a pipeline of skilled talent to meet employer demand. Looking at the demographics of the region, the focus must be on an inclusive economic development strategy that support Black and Brown youth at the same level of their white peers. Doing so will safeguard the future competitiveness of the region.
Now in its sixth round, Advancing San Diego (ASD) addresses skilled talent shortages and increases diversity in high-growth, high-demand jobs. A program of EDC and key community partners, ASD leads employer collaboratives that recognize local training programs most effectively preparing San Diegans for quality jobs; pairing students of those programs with local employers for paid internships; and strengthening community partnerships to power San Diego’s talent pipeline of tomorrow.
To help students build meaningful careers in local, high-demand jobs in key industries, ASD welcomed its Business and Manufacturing cohorts this year, pairing 48 student interns with 25 small companies, of which 19 were woman-, person of color-, veteran-, or disabled-owned. All of the 48 student interns were considered priority students, meaning they identified with a historically under-resourced population, are a first generation or community college student, or currently live or went to high school in a low income neighborhood of San Diego.
ASD is currently convening employers from the Healthcare industry and has recognized seven programs as Preferred Providers for their work in training Medical Assistants. Students from those programs will be placed in internships beginning in early 2022. See the full network of Preferred Providers here.
Advancing San Diego by the numbers, 2021
student interns placed
small companies paired with high-demand talent
job applications submitted on Career Exploration Day
A core part of this work includes direct collaboration with industry. ASD convened six working groups made up of industry leaders from San Diego companies including Northrop Grumman, Rady Children’s Hospital, and Takeda, among others, who together shared the most-needed roles in their firms by sector. Each of their findings were summarized in the talent demand reports below:
San Diego’s economy, made up of innovative companies doing life-changing work, is fueled by skilled talent. Each job in the innovation economy supports another two jobs in the region, allowing for San Diego’s rapid economic growth despite a global pandemic. However, future growth is threatened by barriers to quality employment that many San Diegans face. Changing skill requirements, existing demographic gaps in educational attainment, and a nationwide battle for talent, coupled with a soaring cost of living, continue to threaten San Diego’s competitiveness as a region.
As we work to get San Diego’s recovery right and build a more equitable, inclusive region, EDC’s Advancing San Diego (ASD) program aims to better prepare San Diegans for quality jobs, and expand access to diverse, qualified talent for San Diego companies. As part of this work, ASD hosted its second annual Career Exploration Day and Virtual Career Fair. Sponsored by Qualcomm Incorporated, the virtual event served to connect students from all over San Diego County, who are enrolled in employer-verified training programs, with opportunities across a diverse range of industries and professions. Via an online platform, ASD connected nearly 100 local students with 22 companies including startups Smartville and Flock Freight, established firms Booz Allen Hamilton and San Diego Gas & Electric, and many more. In the day-long event, students and employers had the opportunity to network and interview, share job opportunities, and listen in on career exploration panels with professionals in high-demand roles and industries.
“At Qualcomm, we’re looking to expand our recruitment of diverse talent while cultivating new opportunities to hire locally”, said Heather Ace, Chief Human Resources Officer at Qualcomm Incorporated. “Career Exploration Day offers us the opportunity to both connect with potential local candidates and support the broader talent development efforts being driven by the EDC here in San Diego.”
ICYMI, we’ve compiled for advice for students from the event
1. Be a chameleon; learn to adapt:
COVID-19 has made one thing clear: Your plans may change. Different externalities will force you to change your strategies and the way you work. Take this opportunity to learn to be adaptable; this will help you be successful into the future.
As Sharp Healthcare’s Talent Acquisition Specialist Jason Pijapaert shared in the Healthcare and Life Sciences panel, “Being able to roll with the punches and having the ability to work collaboratively with a diverse group of people that have different mindsets, expertise, and opinions is vital in any workplace. Being adaptable to your environment and the different challenges that you will inevitably be presented with will allow you to grow and be better at what you do.”
2. Consider opportunities to say “Yes”:
Now, we’re not talking about taking on unimaginable workloads or saying yes beyond your boundaries. Instead, we mean saying yes to new opportunities, yes to learning new things, yes to working with a different team, yes to taking risks.
Lalitta Ghandikota, Senior Director of Talent at Element Biosciences, shared in the Healthcare and Life Sciences panel the key to her success has been saying yes to every opportunity. In the beginning, it may seem like you know nothing about what you just got yourself into, but those will be the times when you will have the most fun growing and learning. “I always say that the time in your career where you are having the most fun is also probably when you are most terrified,” she said.
3. Take time to learn:
With millions of websites and video tutorials available, taking the time to learn a new skill or improve an existing one will give you an important advantage when looking for a job or an internship.
Dr. Michael Alston, Senior Staff Engineer at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., says our most valuable employees innovate in ways that increase the productivity of other employees or create new products or services. On the Engineering and Manufacturing panel, he shared, “for students, websites like code.org (which teaches computational thinking), and Python.org (a versatile, widely-used coding language) are great platforms for building skills useful for innovation.”
4. Don’t forget about soft skills:
While hard skills like coding or data mining are crucial for certain roles, leveraging your soft skills can help you stand out. The ability to manage your time effectively, think critically about a problem, absorb constructive criticism, communicate effectively both internally and externally, and collaborate across teams is just as valuable as knowing a particular programming language.
Regardless of your industry or position, you’ll always need to work effectively with people of different backgrounds and skills to get a project done well. Leverage these skills when you’re speaking with recruiters to showcase a different facet of professional strength.
Interested in careers in key industry sectors? Visit ASD’s Preferred Provider Map where you can find leading training programs that have been certified by employers.
Looking to join our network of Preferred Providers? Sign up to get updates on ASD’s future talent pipeline management work.
Looking for skilled local talent? Contact Taylor Dunne, Talent Initiatives Manager, and we will help you get in touch with San Diego’s skilled talent pool.
Welcome to the fifth edition in EDC’s Changing Business Landscape Series, which will be published bi-monthly in the San Diego Business Journal and here on our blog. If you missed them, check out all past editions here.
Surveying the changing business landscape in San Diego
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of life, including how businesses operate. Companies in every industry are rapidly re-evaluating how they do business, changing the way they interact with customers, manage supply chains and where their employees are physically located. This has massive immediate and long-term implications for San Diego’s workforce and job composition, as well as regional land use decisions and infrastructure investment.
To identify evolving trends in local business needs and operations, ensuring their ability to grow and thrive in the region, San Diego Regional EDC is surveying nearly 200 companies in the region’s key industries on a rolling basis throughout 2021 to monitor and report shifts in their priorities and strategies. In addition, EDC constructed the San Diego Business Recovery Index (BRI)—a sentiment index to measure companies’ perceptions of current conditions, as well as expectations for the future across several factors such as business development, employment, and commercial real estate needs. (An index value >50 reflects expansion, and a value <50 reflects contraction. More information on the index and how it is calculated is available here.)
These insights will help inform long-term economic development priorities around talent recruitment and retention, quality job creation, and infrastructure development. Companies are surveyed on several topics, with varying emphases in each wave.
Here are three key findings from the wave of surveying conducted in October 2021:
For software companies, the struggle is now real. They have been among the most optimistic industries surveyed, but now face similar challenges to other industries.
The market for skilled talent has never been hotter. A great convergence of talent needs is turning hiring difficulties into slower job growth.
Supply chain disruptions appear to be pinching profit margins. Input prices have risen for many companies, but most are reluctant to pass along higher costs to their customers and opting to sacrifice earnings for now.
The BRI took a step back in October to settle at 54.1, marking the second consecutive decline since June. The topline index value edged 1.2 points lower from August’s 55.3 but is 9.6 points off its June high of 63.7. The deterioration stems from weaker perceptions of present conditions, but slightly more hopeful views of the future helped keep the overall BRI in expansion territory.
Companies reported a slowing of both revenues and earnings. This comes after a period of record earnings in some industries but could also be the result of prolonged supply chain disruptions that have choked off necessary inputs and simultaneously prevented sales. Yet, businesses surveyed also expressed continued difficulty hiring and retaining workers, driving a significant slowdown in job growth.
For tech companies, the struggle is now real
Firms in industries with limited remote work capabilities, such as Healthcare and Aerospace, continued to express relatively pessimistic views. Joining this list are Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Software companies, which up to now have been among the most optimistic industries surveyed.
Software companies signaled revenues have begun to fall, along with an even steeper decline in earnings. Supply chain disruptions play a role here, as San Diego is top 10 exporter of services. Limited availability of or access to key inputs, as well as travel restrictions, have hindered San Diego Technology companies from growing their businesses. Making matters worse, these businesses also expressed far greater difficulty finding people to hire compared to the summer months, which is driving a significant slowdown in job growth. Taken together, these headwinds led respondents to sour on the economy—both presently as well as future expectations for the next six months to a year.
ICT firms have also lost some faith in their current and future economic prospects. Companies in this vertical are facing even greater supply chain difficulties than Software firms. Business development and hiring pose far greater challenges than they did in the summer. Worse still, worker retention has become nearly impossible as a record number and a record rate of people quit their jobs in September.
The market for skilled talent has never been hotter
Talent recruitment and retention challenges have undermined employers since before the pandemic began. What is new is employers reported a sharp slowdown in job growth as workers drive a hard bargain. Not only are workers seeking higher wages and more flexible work arrangements, but employers find themselves competing across industry for an increasingly limited pool of skilled talent.
The top posted occupation in San Diego during the last year, outside of registered nurses, was for software developers and software quality assurance testers. There were more than 23,000 unique job postings for those occupations going back to October 2020. The top posting companies for these jobs are tech giants, such as Qualcomm and Apple, as well as startups receiving record venture funding. However, manufacturers comprised a formidable second with 4,514 unique positions during that time.
Manufacturing in San Diego has long been advanced—producing everything from jet engines to medical devices—so elevated demand for software developers working on unmanned aerial systems or DNA sequencing may not be all that surprising. Nevertheless, digging a bit deeper, we find the second most listed skill among Manufacturing job postings was for Teradata SQL, an open-source database management system. In fact, during the past 12 months, Manufacturing job postings that included Teradata SQL quadrupled and represent nearly 71 percent of all postings seeking that skillset. The median advertised annual salary for jobs requiring this skillset is $126,000, which is up 40 percent from a year earlier, and about $5,000 more than in either San Francisco or San Jose, and about $30,000 more than in Seattle.
The demand for skilled talent is rising rapidly and spreading across industries. Unfortunately, the supply of that talent has not kept pace. In fact, census data show an overall decline in the number of total degree holders in the region since 2017. A rising cost of living against a backdrop of increasing competition from “tech markets” across the globe poses a real challenge for local companies. With still more than 86,000 people unemployed, it has never been more important that the region invest in upskilling and building a pipeline of local talent to fuel San Diego’s recovery and future growth.
Supply chain disruptions appear to be squeezing profit margins
Supply chain disruptions and inflation continue to dominate headlines. While these challenges appear to be temporary, they are impacting consumers and the business decisions of local companies. Companies surveyed indicated supply chains are just as challenging now as they were in June. Furthermore, these challenges are directly tied to increases in input prices. This is leaking downstream into business development and sales, which employers, on balance, now rate as only slightly expansionary.
As such, some companies are considering passing along higher input costs as margins get squeezed from both sides. This decision largely depends on the magnitude of price increases that companies are facing themselves. Most companies are willing to absorb the bulk of increased costs when those increases are relatively small; tolerance for deeper margin cuts were much smaller. Only one in four companies indicated wanting to pass along at least half of those increased costs, where input prices have risen less than five percent. However, companies are nearly twice as likely (44 percent) to do so where input prices rose more than five percent—principally those in Manufacturing.
Passing along increased costs is a short-term strategy to a complex problem. As such, some companies are reevaluating their supply chains, not just in terms of suppliers but also the networks they rely upon to receive inputs or distribute products. Of the companies surveyed, only 14 percent indicated currently using the Port of San Diego. However, nearly double (27 percent) expressed a willingness to do so in the future.
The survey results continue to reflect an uneven recovery across industries. The reported trends in employment line up squarely with recent jobs reports for the region. In total, San Diego establishments added an underwhelming 3,600 jobs to the economy in September. The sharp slowdown in job growth helps explain the upward shift in remote work adoption as well as future expectations for remote work accommodations. There are many surveys of workers, both locally and nationally, indicating that desires for flexibility and remote work are strong and sticky. Despite these challenges, employers surveyed remain optimistic about the next six to 12 months albeit somewhat more modest plans for expansion.
Stay tuned for more on San Diego’s changing business landscape. EDC will be back every other month with more trends and insights. For more data and analysis, visit our research page.
Life Sciences innovation is at center stage of San Diego economy
As my mind continues to focus on the health of our community and our economy, I find so many of my conversations centering on the work of San Diego’s Life Sciences industry. Long an anchor of our region’s innovation economy, the Science and Biotech sectors are taking center stage in more ways than ever before—leading in vaccination and testing innovation, and in inbound financial investment and commercial real estate demand.
A key finding from our Q3 Economic Snapshot reveals that our local Life Sciences industry attracted nearly $1 billion in funding during the quarter—nearly 70 percent more than the amount received in the same quarter last year. Just last month, San Diego’s elected leaders were at the center of a deal to reduce prescription drug costs, while also supporting the funding model for scientific research and innovation that enables life-changing drugs, therapeutics, and cures to find their way to market—many from right here in San Diego.
With all of this swirling around us, it is no surprise that a great deal of EDC’s work continues to focus on the growth and support of the skilled workers and quality jobs that power San Diego’s Life Sciences industry, including the work summarized below:
EDC’s Life Sciences Task Force is working to build a strategic economic development framework for industry support in order to enhance the ability of Life Sciences companies to discover, grow, and thrive in the San Diego region. To complement this work by EDC’s economic development team and further support talent attraction and retention in the industry, San Diego: Life. Changing. will be pivoting its focus to primarily feature scientific innovation and opportunities for talent.
Current MetroConnect V finalist White Labs, along with three other diverse companies, will compete for an additional $25,000 in funding towards their international expansion strategies during MetroConnect’s virtual Grand Prize PitchFest on November 15, 2021. Register here to cast your vote—and apply HERE to be part of MetroConnect VI and take your company global with us.
Advancing San Diego has released its sixth Talent Demand Report, this time focusing on the Life Sciences industry. Advancing San Diego joined forces with Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind cross-regional workforce development study between two California metros using the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management framework. The two organizations worked together to identify:
A high-demand occupation in need of a strengthened and diversified talent pipeline
The skills needed to fill that occupation in an industry that fuels the economies of both regions.
By engaging employers from both San Diego and Los Angeles, some of which have locations in both regions, Advancing San Diego and LAEDC are working to create a common language and understanding of employer need throughout Southern California.
Watch the Talent Demand Webinar where we release the report and walk through the application process HERE.
View and download the full list of skills criteria HERE.
Download a Google Doc version of the Preferred Provider application to prepare responses HERE.
About Advancing San Diego:
Advancing San Diego is a collaborative effort to better prepare San Diegans for quality jobs via locally-serving education institutions and expand access to diverse, qualified talent for San Diego companies. The program works to help the region meet its inclusive growth goals by strengthening relationships between local industry and education systems. Better alignment between these systems will mean that the region can collectively prepare San Diegans for high-demand jobs, and local employers – many of which are small companies – can establish or expand recruitment relationships with locally-serving institutions. Learn more about the program here.
How we do it:
Gather job skills requirements through employer working groups
Share insights with education partners and publicly recognize programs as industry-approved Preferred Providers of talent
Build a network of locally-serving Preferred Provider programs and connect companies to students of those programs, including fully-subsidized internships for small companies
The collaboration between Advancing San Diego and LAEDC was made possible by:
Advancing San Diego is made possible by JP Morgan Chase, and is a collaborative effort by the following organizations: