Q4 2023: San Diego’s employment and what it means post-pandemic

Each quarter, EDC’s Research Bureau releases its Economic Snapshot to analyze key economic indicators in San Diego’s economy. Read on as we dig deeper to assess the region’s job recovery journey in a post-pandemic economy by looking at economic trends through the end of 2023.

San Diego’s job recovery journey

As San Diego’s unemployment rate has remained up and above the national average, at 4.3 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, and as job growth has slowed compared to early 2023, it is worth examining the region’s progress recovery in a post-pandemic economy.

From March to April 2020, San Diego lost 233,900 jobs, and employment dropped by 18.5 percent causing the unemployment rate to spike to 15.7 percent. In November 2021, the region officially recovered the total number of jobs lost during the pandemic. While recovering lost jobs is an indicator of a healthy economy, it does not tell the whole story. The following explores San Diego’s employment data to understand where the region stands as of the end of 2023.

Not all industries are created equal

While San Diego has regained the total amount of lost jobs, this is not the case for each industry. Total employment in San Diego stands two percent higher than at the onset of the pandemic. However, more than half of industries in San Diego don’t currently match pre-pandemic employment levels. Top growing industries such as Utilities, Transportation, and Healthcare help offset other sectors that are lagging in job growth.

Comparing current employment levels relative to pre-pandemic numbers is not always a reflection of recovery. Such is the case for Finance and Insurance, which made up for pandemic-related job losses by December 2020, but currently sits at 5,300 jobs under original pre-pandemic levels. In fact, several other industries initially recovered pandemic job losses and now find themselves with lower total employment. This includes Retail Trade, Real Estate, Accommodation and Food Services, and Management of Companies.

While it is hard to assume this negative trend is related to pandemic effects, the new conditions it spurred can potentially have a lagging impact on employment across sectors. For example, as remote work trends have become more prevalent, commercial real estate is affected as firms continue to reduce their office footprint, which could potentially lead to a lower demand for commercial real estate talent. In 2019, remote job postings made up only eight and four percent of total job postings in Finance and Information, respectively. In 2023, those proportions grew to 26 and 15 percent.

The industries that recovered the fastest are Transportation and Warehousing in November 2020, followed by Finance and Insurance in December 2020, and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services in March 2021. Employment in the Utilities industry was hardly impacted after March 2020, which might explain why it has added the most jobs since the pandemic started.

What if the pandemic didn’t impact jobs?

While jobs have been recovered, the pandemic has also impacted the job growth that would have occurred absent the pandemic. Before the COVID hit, San Diego’s annual employment growth rate was averaging at 1.1 percent. This typical annual growth rate was disrupted in 2020, as annual employment fell by 10 percent.

To get an idea of where employment would stand today if jobs had not declined amid the pandemic, we apply the average growth rate from 2019 to 2023. Below, we can see how this potential growth compares to the actual annual employment levels in San Diego. From this, we see that the region is still 1,488 jobs below the potential growth, assuming employment has been growing at a fixed annual rate of 1.1 percent. This recovery had a significant economic impact on the region beyond number of jobs. In 2020, the annual growth of San Diego’s gross regional product (GRP) was barely 0.1 percent, while the annual GRP growth rate in 2021 and 2022 was 10 percent.

San Diego relative to California

While San Diego has not fully closed this gap between actual employment and potential employment growth, it is ahead of the state. This aligns with the fact that San Diego’s unemployment rate has remained below California’s throughout the pandemic until now. Additionally, the region was able to reach pre-pandemic labor force levels back in 2022, while the state remains 1.57 percentage points below 2019 participation.

Where does San Diego stand?

While San Diego’s recovery from pandemic employment impacts is not over yet, it is very close to completion at a macro level. However, it is important to monitor individual industries as their employment trends differ from one another. Even after San Diego is aligned with its potential growth, there will likely be industries falling behind; some might even experience new disruptions due to emerging economic conditions in a post-pandemic economic climate.

When comparing to California, the region has held a stronger position and experienced an overall faster recovery, with lower unemployment rates, faster labor force growth, and more rapid return to potential growth.

Learn more in our Quarterly Economic Snapshot

Sofia Nelson-Ferezi
Sofia Nelson-Ferezi

Coordinator, Research


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San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q4 2023

Every quarter, San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. Thank you to our sponsor Verizon Wireless.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q4 2023 economic data:


Key findings from Q4 2023:

  1. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Office and industrial real estate utilization fall for sixth straight quarter. In Q4, the region experienced sharp increases in negative net absorption of 441,867 sq. ft. in office space and 525,516 sq. ft. in industrial space. These declines mark the sixth consecutive quarter of negative net absorption. The office market ended 2023 with an additional 1.5 million sq. ft. of unoccupied space, bringing the total amount of vacant office space to more than 10.5 million sq. ft. In response, construction activity has generally declined in both office and industrial, most especially office where we see high interest rates and remote work trends continue post-pandemic.
  2. HOUSING PERMITS: In 2023, the number of housing construction permits reached its highest level since 2005. In Q4 alone, 3,500 housing construction permits were issued in San Diego, totaling 11,468 permits for 2023 and beating the average 8,635 permits granted annually since 2004. This was driven primarily by permits for five or more units, at almost 8,000 permits, while permits for one to four units decreased compared to 2022. Despite an increase in permitting activity, affordability remains woefully low. In fact, only one in nine households in San Diego can now afford the median home price, which reached $931,600 in Q4.
  3. VENTURE CAPITAL: More deals and more dollars in Q4. VC funding in Q4 was split almost equally between San Diego tech and life sciences companies, at $526 million and $570 million respectively, while the consumer companies raised $9 million. This brought the region’s total in Q4 to $1.1 billion, $134 million more than Q3. Making up more than half of Q4’s tech funding, Shield AI secured the region’s largest deal to buildout its AI pilot for autonomous aircraft systems. Overall, San Diego saw a total of $3.9 billion in funding across 182 deals in 2023, $1.9 million short from 2022, but ranking fifth in total VC funding among all U.S. metros.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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Q3 2023: San Diego’s remote work policy and the impact on commercial real estate

Each quarter, EDC’s Research Bureau releases its Economic Snapshot to analyze key economic indicators in San Diego’s economy. Read on as we take a closer look at how remote work trends are reshaping the workplace and the broader economy.

Remote first work

As the cost of living in San Diego continues to outpace compensation, remote work flexibility has emerged as a valuable incentive for job seekers—often, the most valuable. With San Diego median home prices reaching an all-time high of $1 million in Q3, working remotely opens affordable housing markets to employees without being limited by geographic constraints. Meanwhile, this allows employers to hire out-of-county or even out-of-state, increasing the pool of talent available to them.

Even still, employers grapple with concerns about the potential impact on employee productivity, leading to a spectrum of opinions on the efficacy of remote schedules. Yet, cutting overhead costs by adopting fully remote schedules has become an attractive possibility for firms.

SANDAG’s recent report on Remote Work Policies and Practices shows how the percentage of businesses that offer remote work options to their employees jumped from 27 percent pre-pandemic to 47 percent during, and 57 percent post-pandemic. This has had an obvious and indelible impact on commercial real estate demand.

What this means for real estate now

In the Q3 2023 Economic Snapshot, we saw that San Diego office real estate experienced its fifth consecutive quarter of negative net absorption, which reflects the difference between space that became physically occupied and space that became vacant. When this number is negative, it means more space became vacant than occupied during the quarter, perhaps because tenants decided not to renew leases as they became due.

San Diego’s negative net absorption trend is noteworthy for two reasons:

  1. Despite net absorption remaining negative for five quarters, asking rates remained at an all-time high throughout, reaching $3.31 per square foot in Q3 2023. Typically, asking rates would be expected to decrease in response to a slower demand for office space.
  1. Since 2010, the only other time the region has experienced five consecutive quarters of negative net absorption was during the onset of the pandemic, from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021.

Find this and other data trends in our interactive dashboard.

We know that office spaces became unoccupied during the pandemic due to public health mandates and safety protocols. But why are we seeing this trend again and what could be causing it? The answer could be observed in the previous graph, leading firms to cut office space.

While net absorption remained negative in Q3 2023, the number recovered greatly and indicated potential recovery from past quarters. In Q3, the office market experienced 37,868 square feet of negative net absorption, compared to 159,262 square feet in Q2 and 874,036 in Q1.

The negative net absorption in Q3 was primarily driven by larger office vacancies in areas such as UTC, Kearny Mesa, and Del Mar Heights, according to CBRE’s quarterly report. Similarly, the highest asking rates in Q3 were found in UTC, Torrey Pines, and Del Mar Heights. The low tenant demand and the continuing construction of office spaces combined might generate more available, yet unoccupied space.

Looking ahead and how you can get involved

As the San Diego region anticipates continued changes in commercial real estate, EDC is scoping a unique study of the local workforce in which we’ll survey the employees of large and small companies throughout the county. The first local study of scale on workforce requirements and desires (to our knowledge), our goal is to identify evolving local trends in how work is done, workers’ needs, workforce trends, and workplace requirements to inform company return to office plans as well as office tenant attraction strategies.

Updated survey work and studies combined with tools such as EDC’s Investment Map can help private and public investors better understand workforce and workplace trends when making commercial real estate development decisions that benefit both employers and workers. To get involved, contact EDC’s Senior Director of Research and Economic Development:

Eduardo Velasquez
Eduardo Velasquez

Sr. Director, Research & Economic Development


You might also like to read:

San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q3 2023

Every quarter, San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. Thank you to our sponsor Verizon Wireless

EDC explains San Diego’s Q3 2023 economic data:


Key findings from Q3 2023:

  1. TALENT: Job growth continues as job postings slow down. In Q3, employment grew 1.9 percent compared to a year ago, in line with the state but behind San Diego’s most peer metros. The labor force has recovered from Q2 losses, adding nearly 13,000 participants this quarter and up 2.8 percent from last year. In contrast, the number of unique job postings advertised by regional employers totaled 106,521 in Q3, a 32 percent decrease compared to this quarter last year.
  2. AFFORDABILITY: Median home price reached an all-time highSan Diego’s median home price ranks second among peer metros, behind only San Francisco. Home prices increased an additional eight percent during the last year, while home sales fell 25 percent. Year-over-year home sales have declined since August 2021. The lack of housing supply and the reduced number of transactions has resulted in record lack of affordability.
  3. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Office space occupancy declines for fifth consecutive quarter. In other words, more office space has become unoccupied than leased for over a year. However, net absorption is currently trending in the right direction. In Q3, the office market experienced 37,868 square feet of negative absorption, compared to 159,262 square feet in Q2 and 874,036 in Q1. The only other time San Diego experienced this degree of negative net absorption was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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Study: San Diego’s cyber talent grows by 10% across 1K firms

EDC, CCOE study quantifies impact of region’s cybersecurity cluster

Together with the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE), EDC released “Cybersecurity is Everyone’s Business: San Diego’s Cyber Cluster.” The fifth update since 2014, the report quantifies the economic impact of the region’s cybersecurity cluster and explores the firms, technology, and talent working to help thwart cyber risk across San Diego and beyond.

As cyberattacks and ransomware threats extend beyond technology and begin to impact even our built environment, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. Not only are the consequences costly—reaching an average of $9.44 million in the U.S. per IBM—but they have profound impacts on human health and safety.

San Diego is leading the charge with more than 1,000 cyber firms, top-ranked education and research institutes, and the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR). This collaborative ‘Ecosystem in Action,’ as highlighted by the White House, is developing new technologies, solutions, and diverse cyber talent to create a more secure digital community for all,said Lisa Easterly, President & CEO, CCOE—commissioning organization of the report.

Marking the 10-year anniversary of CCOE, the biennial report includes a deep dive into San Diego’s $4 billion cyber cluster, a metro-by-metro comparison, a roster of local resources and assets, and business sentiments of local firms.


  • Cybersecurity is everyone’s business. With increasing cyber threats to physical infrastructure, the security of data and communication is of critical importance, leading to a sharp rise in global demand for cybersecurity talent across industries. In San Diego, 59 percent of private sector cybersecurity jobs are in industries outside of technology, such as manufacturing, architecture, and engineering.
  • San Diego’s cybersecurity cluster is expanding its footprint and impact on the regional economy. There are 13,383 jobs and 1,016 establishments tied to the cybersecurity cluster in San Diego, up eight percent and 17 percent respectively in the last two years. Altogether, this amounts to a $4 billion regional economic impact.
  • Local cybersecurity firms remain deeply linked to the Federal government, including the Department of Defense. A majority (65 percent) of San Diego cyber firms work directly or indirectly with the government. Nearly one-fifth indicate government-related work as their primary focus, explaining why 23 percent of local cybersecurity firms are in the defense and aerospace industry.
  • Fast growth and resilience define San Diego’s cybersecurity talent. The region’s talent pool has grown by nearly 10 percent since 2018, five times faster than all other occupations combined. The cybersecurity talent base experienced significantly smaller job losses during the pandemic and recovered both more strongly and more quickly than other occupations. 
  • Demand for cyber talent far exceeds local supply. Three out of four cybersecurity firms in San Diego report having difficulty finding entry- to mid-level as well as experienced applicants. Increasing compensation and diversity can help address San Diego’s talent shortage.

Cyber is an important and rapidly growing piece of the San Diego regional economy. The cluster supports 26,000 local jobs, most concentrated at NAVWAR, the preeminent provider of information warfare capabilities for the U.S. Navy. In all, the economic impact of San Diego’s cyber cluster is about the same as 24 Comic-Cons.

Firms in every industry face cybersecurity risks. This is driving up the demand for cybersecurity talent and solutions. To keep pace and remain competitive, San Diego must leverage its unique assets, such as the military, as well as its incredibly diverse pool of talent,said Eduardo Velasquez, Senior Director of Research and Economic Development, EDC.

We have a national shortage of cyber workers—to the tune of 663,000 in the U.S. per Cyberseek. Opening the aperture with accessible and skills-based training helps seed and diversify the talent pipeline, which is critical to advancing our country’s homeland security,said Joseph Oregon, Chief of Cybersecurity, Region 9, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

More competitive compensation, increased diversity in recruitment, and thoughtful consideration of degree requirements are all strategies that can help San Diego lead in cybersecurity innovation across the region and globe.

In partnership with CCOE, the report was sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, CyberCatch, ESET, Haiku, RiskRecon, and San Diego State University, and was unveiled today at an industry event hosted at Qualcomm.


LEARN more about cyber IN SAN DIEGO

About Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE)
CCOE is a San Diego-based nonprofit that mobilizes industry, academia, and government to grow the regional cyber economy and create a more secure digital community for all. sdccoe.org

The economic impact of San Diego’s RNA cluster

EDC study explores the power and impact of RNA before and beyond COVID-19

Together with 1STRAND, EDC released “San Diego’s RNA cluster: Powering public health and the economy,” a comprehensive overview and economic impact assessment of San Diego’s RNA cluster, including direct input from industry representatives and stakeholders.

The power of gene expression manipulation has unlocked possibilities that were once unthought of—advanced treatments for cancer, HIV vaccines, personalized medicine, and more. These scientific achievements, discoveries, and events have catalyzed the growth of RNA innovation and therapeutics.

Home to dozens of RNA firms supporting more than 11,000 jobs, San Diego is especially well positioned to lead in RNA therapeutics innovation, promising a bright future for the region’s Life Sciences ecosystem and the broader economy.


  • San Diego’s RNA cluster is a major contributor to the regional economy, with a nearly $6 billion annual impact. For every 100 jobs generated within the cluster, an additional 150 jobs are supported across the region.
  • San Diego’s RNA cluster has capabilities in both research and development (R&D) and manufacturing. While R&D leads RNA activities in the region, San Diego’s expertise in advanced manufacturing offers a solid foundation for further growth.
  • Leveraging its expertise in RNA technology, San Diego proved resilient and important in the fight against COVID-19. The region drew in $59 million from the National Institutes of Health (or NIH) and employment grew nine percent through 2021.
  • Software development jobs continue to grow within San Diego RNA firms. Demand for these professionals is expected to rise as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML) are further integrated.
  • Talent attraction is a major challenge for local RNA companies. Compensation is not keeping pace with San Diego’s high cost of living and puts the region seventh out of 10 in average wages among peer metros.

RNA and RNA therapeutics sit at the intersection of four sectors: R&D, manufacturing, trade, and healthcare. These include operations such as medical laboratories, production of biological materials and lab instruments, drug wholesalers, and consulting services to name a few—all of which are part of a broader ecosystem of industries fueling San Diego’s RNA cluster. This broader ecosystem feeds RNA clusters across the country, and San Diego consistently ranks among the top 10 metros in terms of total jobs, job concentration, and average wages. Peer metros includes Life Sciences heavyweights Boston and San Francisco, as well as parts of the North Carolina Research Triangle and tech hubs Seattle and San Jose.

Among peer metros, San Diego ranks:

  • #2 in job growth (nine percent) from 2021
  • #2 in projected job growth (13 percent) by 2027
  • #3 in number of job postings
  • #4 in median advertised salary for RNA jobs at just under $85,000
  • #7 in average hourly compensation ($56.68) for RNA jobs
  • Home to #5 most funded institution in the U.S. in RNA-related projects, and #2 in California – UCSD

The study was produced by EDC on behalf of 1STRAND in June 2023. Learn more about EDC’s research here.


Learn more on Life Sciences in San Diego

Q2: San Diego’s new unemployment numbers and what they mean.

Each quarter, EDC’s Research Bureau releases its Economic Snapshot to analyze key economic indicators in San Diego’s economy. Read on as we dig deeper to assess the region’s labor force, unemployment, and talent supply.

As 2022 came to a close, San Diego celebrated a relatively low unemployment rate at three percent. However, across just a few months, the region saw a slight bump up to four percent in the second quarter of 2023. What does this increase signify, and why is it essential to comprehend the broader employment landscape in San Diego?

Understanding San Diego’s labor force involves more than just examining unemployment rates. It requires considering historical context, peer metro comparisons, labor force dynamics, seasonal trends, and the complex factors shaping employment and workforce trends.

San Diego’s unemployment rate has hovered between 2.9 percent and four percent over the past five years, with the exception of the pandemic-induced peak of 13.6 percent. Since then, San Diego’s unemployment rate has been steadily declining until its first increase in Q1 2023.

With this context in mind, here are some different ways we approach the data.


To gain a comprehensive understanding of local employment, we compare San Diego’s numbers with its peer metros and the nation. In the first two quarters of the year, the U.S. and our peer metros saw an increase in unemployment rates after continuously declining throughout 2022. See how San Diego stacks up in our interactive dashboard, where you will notice similar trend lines in most comparisons. Still, the region ranked amongst the highest increases in this national trend, following Riverside, St. Louis, and San Francisco.


Employment in specific industry sectors can fluctuate due to seasonal factors. For instance, in Q2 2023, tourism and hospitality experienced an expected seasonal spike of 7,100 jobs as San Diego prepares to receive tourists in the spring. To account for these fluctuations, analysts often examine the percentage change from the previous year. In Q2 2023, there was a three percent growth in employment compared to the previous year, slightly exceeding the typical annual employment growth rate (ranging between 1.2 and 2.5 percent) and indicating anticipated recovery from the pandemic.


One crucial aspect to consider when analyzing rising unemployment rates is the overall labor force composition. Sometimes, an increasing unemployment rate can be attributed to a growing labor force as individuals re-enter or join the workforce. This usually results in temporarily higher unemployment rates, as these individuals search for employment and the hiring process takes time. However, for Q2 2023, this was not the case. Data indicates a decline in the total labor force while the number of unemployed has risen. This phenomenon contributed to the increase in the unemployment rate during the first half of 2023. To put this into perspective, Q2 2023 saw a labor force decline of 25,889 since the last quarter. In contrast to the year before, the labor force declined by 8,966 in Q2 2022. While historical data indicate that labor force declines at the beginning of Q2 are typical, this year’s Q2 decrease marked the highest in the past five years, even exceeding Q2 2020 when employment was first affected by the pandemic.


Here are some factors that can collectively help explain San Diego’s labor force fluctuations:

Remote work trends. The widespread adoption of remote work during the pandemic has led to a preference for flexibility and convenience. As a result, workers may seek remote-only or hybrid work arrangements, potentially contributing to the “great resignation” phenomenon. This trend also has implications for the use—or lack thereof—of office space and commercial real estate. Office asking rates have remained high after the pandemic spike ($3.26 per square foot), while rates for industrial space have been more stable.

Rising cost of living. While San Diego is home to top universities producing talent in key economic sectors such as innovation, the increasing cost of living may drive workers away from the region. EDC’s Inclusive Growth framework highlights the disconnection between the unaffordable housing market and compensation. Competitive wages are a must to keep our locally produced talent in the region.

Limited talent supply. There are more open positions in San Diego than unemployed people available to fill them—on par with the national trend. Employers are responding to talent supply challenges by prioritizing inclusive talent recruitment. Job opportunities are opened to a new subset of the unemployed population, expanding the talent pool for employers. To do this, there have been employer-driven efforts to reevaluate training requirements and accessibility, as well as amplified focus on opportunity populations. On the educators side, efforts are being made to leverage the bi-national comparative advantage to fill high-demand positions with talent produced in the Baja region by collaborating with universities across the border. UC San Diego’s ENLACE summer research program invites high school and university students from the Baja region to participate in research programs at UC San Diego.

While the unemployment rate itself is not always sufficient to indicate concern, historical economic context and analysis helps us gather the following takeaways:

  • High-level unemployment numbers for Q2 2023 are in alignment with historical and national trends, as most peer metros experienced similar increases. In other words, San Diego is not experiencing any unusual trend activity.
  • However, labor force composition trends should command our attention in upcoming quarters, being that Q2’s labor force number decreased significantly compared to the past five years.
  • Total labor force and unemployment numbers are particularly important to track given the region’s talent supply. Lower unemployment rates can generally indicate a limited talent pool; however, this quarter’s unemployment rate increase was mostly due to people exiting the labor force, not people joining and looking for jobs.

Explore the data in our Economic Snapshot.

EDC report: 2023 Inclusive Growth Progress

Report: San Diego affordability crisis threatens latest jobs and talent gains

Today, San Diego Regional EDC released its 2023 Inclusive Growth Progress Report. With updated data and bold objectives set around increasing the number of quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households critical to the region’s competitiveness, the report measures San Diego’s growth and recovery, and spotlights the greatest threats to prosperity.


Making the business case for inclusion, EDC releases this annual report to track progress toward the region’s 2030 goals: 50,000 new quality jobs* in small businesses; 20,000 skilled workers per year; and 75,000 newly thriving households**. Since its launch in 2017, the initiative has rallied public commitments from County, City, academic, and private sector leaders who are leveraging the Inclusive Growth framework to inform their priorities, tactics, and resource allocation. While much about the economy remains uncertain, intentional and consistent efforts by a diverse set of regional stakeholders will be key to achieving these goals.

“Large and small businesses, nonprofits, and government all play important roles in building a strong local economy and expanding economic inclusion,” said Jennie Brooks, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton and EDC Board Chair. “Booz Allen is empowering its employees with training in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and is committed to helping prepare local, diverse San Diegans for tech careers of the future. We are proud to partner with local nonprofits and small businesses to make advanced technology broadly accessible to students and create a supportive ecosystem in San Diego to drive inclusive economic growth.”


Over the past decade, the San Diego region has experienced a notable upswing in general prosperity, standard of living, average wages, and productivity, including a full recovery from the pandemic across virtually every sector. Yet, these gains have not been evenly distributed.

In terms of racial, geographic, and overall inclusion, San Diego has slipped; the pandemic has hit lower-income households and minority communities hardest. The relative poverty rate has increased while median earnings and the household wage gap between white and non-white populations has widened. Record-level inflation has hit struggling San Diego households hard, and high operating costs have degraded the ability of businesses to attract and retain talent.

Despite these obstacles, San Diego is once again making headway on the quality jobs and skilled worker goals; see charts below. 2021 saw an uptick in small business jobs as well as the highest increase in post-secondary education (PSE) completions in more than a decade.

However, decreasing affordability coupled with uneven economic prosperity not only threatens that progress but indeed may mean that San Diego falls even further behind its peer metros on overall prosperity. The region now needs to add 125,000 newly thriving households by the end of the decade to meet the goal.

The region’s expensive and limited housing market has exacerbated inflation across all categories, with fewer than 44 percent of San Diego households considered thriving. The affordability crisis will primarily impact Black and Latino households, of which more than half are low-income, and continue to challenge employers’ ability to attract and retain talent—posing the single greatest threat to the region’s economic growth.

“While EDC’s report demonstrates San Diego’s remarkable resilience in the face of the pandemic, our jobs and talent gains are being diminished by the region’s affordability crisis. Unless we get this right, San Diego will always be catching up,” said Lisette Islas, Executive VP and Chief Impact Officer at MAAC, and EDC Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth.

Join the movement

Using a demand-driven, employer-led, and outcomes-based approach, San Diego private, public, and community leaders must deploy creative solutions to achieve these 2030 goals. EDC invites the community to join us at one of two upcoming webinars to learn more about the data and how to get involved:

“We’re seeing HR departments dissolve degree requirements, big buyers redirecting procurement spend, governments streamlining permitting processes, and developers prioritizing on-site childcare. This is the level of regional adoption required to move the needle on inclusion, and EDC is committed to continuing to tell a data-driven story to make the business imperative clear. San Diego’s future depends on it,” said Teddy Martinez, Senior Manager, Research, San Diego Regional EDC.

Read the full report at 2023.inclusivesd.org, and all previous updates at progress.inclusiveSD.org

The initiative is sponsored by Bank of America, City of San Diego, County of San Diego, JPMorgan Chase & Co., San Diego Gas & Electric, Seaport San Diego, Southwest Airlines, and University of San Diego Knauss School of Business.

more at inclusiveSD.org

*Quality job = $45K wages + healthcare benefits.

**Thriving household = total income covers cost of living for renter- or owner-occupied households, at $79K and $122K respectively.

San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q2 2023

Every quarter, San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q2 2023 economic data:

Key findings from Q2 2023:

  1. Unemployment grows as people exit the labor force. Unemployment in San Diego began to rise at the turn of the new year, reaching four percent in Q2 2023. On par with the national rate, most peer metros also saw unemployment rates rise in Q2. In San Diego, the labor market has softened as the number of unemployed people increased by 3,751 while the labor force declined by 25,889 since last quarter. In contrast to Q2 2022, the labor force declined by 8,966 and unemployment decreased by 3,316.
  2. VC resumes pre-pandemic upward trend. San Diego’s total Q2 VC exceeded last quarter but lags compared to Q2 2022. The largest recipient of VC this quarter was Avenzo Therapeutics at $196 million; the company is building a pipeline in preclinical or early clinical antibody-drug conjugates, bispecifics, and small molecules. This deal marks the 18th largest VC investment secured in San Diego since 2019. The region closed a total of 227 VC deals in 2022, compared to 96 deals in the first half of 2023.
  3. Office space asking rates grow while industrial asking rates decline. Office asking rates reached an all-time high of $3.26 per square foot, even as vacancy rates continued to increase over the past four quarters to 14 percent. On the other hand, industrial real estate has responded to a 0.5 percent increase in vacancy rate by offering lower asking prices of $1.66 per square foot. These more stabilized rates may be in part because industrial work requires employees be in-person, unchallenged by remote work trends.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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A tool for inclusive growth: The San Diego Investment Map

New digital tool to help inform inclusive growth in housing, childcare, industry

Today, EDC launched the San Diego Investment Map, a new digital tool to inform strategic, inclusive growth across the region. As part of EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative, the Investment Map provides a first-of-its-kind interactive data tool to support decision making across core facets of the local economy: childcare, middle-income housing, and corporate site selection.

Pulling a variety of datasets into an easy-to-use dashboard, the San Diego Investment Map allows users to explore San Diego County through a different lens. The interactive dashboards include data and analyses, and serve to shine a light on the region’s greatest threats to economic competitiveness: a jobs and housing imbalance, among other affordability challenges.

Key takeaways:

  • CHILDCARE: San Diego has 327 childcare ‘deserts’ spread throughout the region, making up nearly half of all census tracts. The Investment Map can pinpoint gaps in childcare supply and help narrow sites for prioritization.
  • HOUSING: Seventy-four percent of San Diego’s population is middle- to low-income, yet only 2.5 percent of permitted housing development needed in the region accommodates these groups. The Investment Map can identify zones with existing building incentives, community plan updates, as well as new commercial development where workforce housing may be needed.
  • INDUSTRY: There are 15.6 million rentable square feet of commercial space being developed across the region, predominately concentrated in northern San Diego. While this includes enough office space for more than 42,000 employees, most workers live instead in the southern and eastern parts of the region. The Investment Map can assist companies in site selection based on occupation hubs, commute trends, and other infrastructure assets that meet their operational needs.

“The San Diego Investment Map serves as a tool for local policy makers, developers, and employers to make informed and deliberate decisions to prioritize the region’s inclusive growth. Using geographic storytelling, the map makes obvious the gaps in our economy—limited childcare; disjointed development both in terms of location and income-level; rising costs with no end in sight. Data-driven solutions to alleviate these challenges will safeguard San Diego’s competitiveness,” said Teddy Martinez, Sr. Research Manager, San Diego Regional EDC.

Explore the Map

About the Inclusive Growth Initiative

The innovation economy will continue to make San Diego more prosperous than many of its peers, but it is not accessible to the fastest-growing segment of the region’s population. This mismatch between our regional assets and our economy’s future needs will consistently erode the region’s competitiveness.

Launched in 2018, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative serves to communicate these challenges, making the business case for economic inclusion across San Diego. By 2030, County, City, private sector and academic leaders have pledged their commitments to the initiative’s goals: 50,000 new quality jobs in small businesses, 20,000 new skilled workers annually, and 75,000 newly thriving households. See how we’re tracking here.

The San Diego Investment Map marks a new tool for employers and stakeholders to engage in this work, specifically tackling the thriving households goal.

“Inclusion is an economic and business imperative. It’s more than DE&I in the workplace—it’s about ensuring all San Diegans have the resources and infrastructure needed to thrive in this region. The Investment Map highlights all the work we still have to do to make that possible,” said Lisette Islas, EDC vice chair of Inclusive Growth, and EVP and Chief Impact Officer of MAAC.

The San Diego Investment Map was authored by San Diego Regional EDC, with support and counsel provided by Buzz Woolley and Mary Walshok.

Learn more about inclusive growth

Explore the Map

Interested in a demo, or getting involved? Contact EDC:

Teddy Martinez
Teddy Martinez

Sr. Manager, Research