EDC, City of SD release study on creative economy

First-of-its-kind study highlights impact on San Diego economy, including $11B generated and more than 100K employed

Of note, data collected is pre-COVID from 2019.

In order to better understand the impact on our communities, EDC and the City of San Diego have released the first comprehensive study analyzing the intersection between San Diego’s creative industries and the local economy.

Together with the City’s Commission for Arts and Culture and the Economic Development Department, EDC authored the 2020 Creative Economy Study to examine the economic impact creative industries and their workers have on the region.

“San Diego’s creative industries have an important ripple effect in the broader economy. Every job in the creative industry supports another 1.1 jobs,” said Christina Bibler, Director of the City’s Economic Development Department. “This means that creative industries are a powerful component in the region, with many industries employing creative workers.” 

The creative economy is defined as a sector made up of non-profit and for-profit businesses and individuals who produce cultural, artistic and design goods or services and intellectual property. In San Diego, the creative economy employs more than 107,000 people at nearly 7,400 creative firms and organizations and generates more than $11 billion annually.

“To grow San Diego’s creative economy, we first need to understand it. This report is the starting point to understanding the space and trends over time,” said Jonathon Glus, Executive Director of the Commission for Arts and Culture. “Investing in creative industries can help advance San Diego as a creative city and it’s the ideal platform for cross-sector collaboration and innovation.” 

The study measured the size of the creative economy and identified characteristics unique to San Diego that could provide future economic growth potential. The study spanned 71 industries and 77 unique occupations.

Study findings include:

  • 59% of the creative economy in San Diego is for-profit, 34% nonprofit and others (including government employers and independent contractors).
  • The majority of creative firms and organizations are small, with 19 or fewer employees.
  • 41% of creative industry employers hire a large number of contractors.
  • The median annual income for creative occupations is $75,000.

“With a 23% decline in jobs, the arts have been hit even harder by the pandemic than most sectors of our economy,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “As San Diego recovers, it is imperative we continue to work with our arts and cultural leaders to create a more diverse and resilient arts industry to weather future economic downturns—for the sake of the vibrancy of our communities and our culture.” 

Completed in May 2020, the study utilizes 2019 information. The data was collected pre-COVID-19 and prior to the implementation of Assembly Bill 5 Worker status: Employee and Independent Contractors (AB 5).

As of August 2020, the economic impact of job loss in San Diego’s creative industries due to COVID-19 is estimated to be a decline of $2.1 billion. 

READ THE REPORT

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For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit our COVID-19 resource page.

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: October 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers September 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unemployment falls to 9.0 percent.
  1. Long-term unemployment continues to increase.
  1. Investments in workforce development and retraining become increasingly more important.

Labor Market Overview

The region’s unemployment rate was 9.0 percent in September down from a revised 9.5 percent in August 2020, and still three times above the year-ago estimate of 2.9 percent. Unemployment continues to increase in San Diego’s unincorporated and low income areas, while falling in wealthier areas. The highest unemployment area in the region was Bostonia at 16.5 percent and the lowest was Solana Beach at 5.0 percent.

The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than California’s unemployment rate of 10.8 percent, but higher than the national unemployment rate of 7.7 percent.

 

Looking at monthly employment, total nonfarm employment increased by 11,700 in September. Government accounted for the largest monthly gains, adding 6,800 jobs last month, primarily concentrated in local government education (up 5,300 jobs). Even so, compared to a year ago, local government education is still down 11,700 jobs. Leisure and hospitality followed with an increase of 2,500 jobs. Job gains were driven by accommodation and food services, which added 3,200 jobs. These gains were offset by a loss of 700 jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation. Educational and health services increase this month, adding 2,400 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment remains down 117,700 jobs, or 7.8 percent. Leisure and hospitality represents the largest share, down 52,400 jobs. Accommodation is down 14,000 jobs over the year, and bars and restaurants are down 24,400.

 

Long-Term Unemployment Continues to Increase

Long-term unemployment has increased substantially during the past few months of the pandemic, though it remains significantly lower than the peak experience in the Great Recession of 2007-2009. In September, the number of unemployed persons in the U.S. who were jobless for 27 weeks or more increased by 781,000 to 2.4 million. During the Great Recession, the highest rate of long-term unemployment was 6.8 million in April 2010.

Long-term joblessness can have a significant impact on workers’ future career prospects. If out of work long enough, skills become outdated. Moreover, long-term unemployed workers often face continual earnings losses, earnings volatility, and more frequent unemployment throughout their careers. Finally, long-term joblessness greatly increases the risk of workers leaving the workforce altogether, which can have lasting economic impacts.

Workforce development and retraining are becoming increasingly more important, especially as more workers face long-term unemployment. Jobs currently in high demand include software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers, registered nurses, and retail salespersons and supervisors, which had the highest total job postings in September. While the hiring of retail might be a good sign, this may be due to the reopenings of stores and retail which will eventual level off. The top in-demand skills include merchandising, auditing, accounting, and selling techniques. Working to adjust these skills to the changing work environment is essential. Read more about workforce development and retraining, and how EDC is playing a part.

For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.

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San Diego’s Economic Pulse: September 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers August 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unemployment drops sharply to 9.9 percent; remains highest in the unincorporated parts of the County.
  1. Employment up in nearly all industries, up 20,500 jobs month over month.
  1. Low-wage job losses are nearly 30 times greater than high-wage job losses.

Unemployment Drops

The region’s unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in August down from a revised 12.4 percent in July 2020, and far above the year-ago estimate of 3.4 percent. Unemployment declined monthly as the region continues to reopen and jobs recover. San Diego’s unemployment rate remains lower than the state unemployment rate of 11.6 percent, but higher than the national unemployment rate of 8.5 percent.

Unemployment was highest in the unincorporated areas of Bostonia (17.9%), Bonita (14.7%), Spring Valley (13.6%), and in the cities of National City (13.7%) and El Cajon (13.6%), and lowest in the cities of Solana Beach (5.5%), Poway (6.8%), Coronado (6.8%), Del Mar (7.3%), and Encinitas (7.3%). Wealthier areas are enjoying lower rates of unemployment, while neighborhoods with a larger share of lower-paid workers suffer from higher rates of unemployment – elaborated on below.

Employment Bounces Back

Total nonfarm employment increased in August, up 20,500 jobs. This follows similar patterns to the state and national data. In California, nonfarm employment increased by 140,400 in August from the month prior, while payroll employment increased by 1.4 million in the U.S. during the same time period.

However, compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment remains down 135,800 jobs or 9 percent. In California, total nonfarm employment is down 1.6 million jobs, or 8 percent compared to a year ago, while the U.S. is down nearly 13 million jobs, or 8.8 percent.

Sector Employment Gradually Returning

Government accounted for the largest monthly gains, adding 6,800 jobs in August, primarily concentrated in local government education (up 4,300 jobs) after last month’s large decline. Compared to a year ago, local government education is still down 11,400 jobs.

Professional and business services followed with an increase of 5,300 jobs. Most of those job gains were in the administration and support services sector, which added 3,100 jobs to the region.

Construction employment increased this month, adding 3,100 jobs.

Trade, transportation, and utilities employment increased this month, adding 2,600 jobs. This was driven primarily by retail, which added 2,300 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality employment as a whole declined by 400 jobs in August. Encouragingly, however, restaurants added 700 jobs last month amid measured reopenings across the region.

Recovery Must Focus on Low-Wage Workers

Despite the gains observed in August, industry employment remains well below levels a year ago. The largest decline in employment has been in leisure and hospitality, which is down 60,100 jobs (shown in the chart above), or 29 percent since August 2019. Most of those leisure and hospitality job losses are concentrated in accommodation and food services, with a loss of 43,900 jobs. Trade, transportation, and utilities are down 17,100 jobs, with 11,700 of those jobs in retail. Government is down 15,400 jobs annually, with 14,000 local government jobs lost.

The lowest wages in San Diego County are concentrated in the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19: accommodation and food services, retail trade, arts, entertainment, and recreation, and educational services. Average wages for accommodation and food services are $30,560, retail trade are $41,785, arts, entertainment, and recreation are $45,040, and educational services are $49,826. Each sector hit hardest by COVID19 falls below the median regional wage of $73,596.

Layoffs in low-wage sectors have occurred at a rate much higher than those in high-wage sectors. According to Opportunity Insights, low wage jobs are down 31.8 percent. Meanwhile, high wage jobs are down only 1.8 percent.

Consumer spending has also suffered as wages continue to drop, especially for lower-wage employees. While low-wage workers hold less spending power, they spend more of their paychecks directly, rather than investments or savings. We can expect to see a larger proportion of spending come back into the economy as lower-paid employees get their jobs back, and ultimately advance to better paying positions over time.

Every previous economic recovery has increased systemic poverty and widened inequality. Too often in a rush to restore normalcy, entire segments of our community have been left further behind. The stakes could not be higher that we get this recovery right. We must rebuild an economy that is more resilient than before, so prosperity reaches more people. Read more about EDC’s recovery framework.

 

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.

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San Diego’s Economic Pulse: August 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers July 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Unemployment Slightly Lower

The region’s unemployment rate was 12.3 percent in July down from a revised 13.8 percent in June 2020, and far above the year-ago estimate of 3.6 percent. Unemployment declined monthly as the region continues to reopen and jobs recover. The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than the state unemployment rate of 13.7 percent, but higher than the national unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.

Unemployment was highest in the unincorporated areas of Bostonia (21.8%), Bonita (18.0%), Spring Valley (16.7%), and in the cities of National City (16.5%) and El Cajon (16.4%). Unemployment was lowest in the cities of Solana Beach (6.9%), Poway (8.6%), Coronado (9.1%), and Del Mar (9.1%). Areas with large Hispanic populations are facing higher rates of unemployment, as Hispanics are disproportionally employed in the most vulnerable occupations.

Employment Continues to Decline

Total nonfarm employment fell in July, down 2,200 jobs. This differs from state and national data. In California, nonfarm employment increased by 15,370 in July from the month prior, while payroll employment increased by 1.8 million in the U.S. during the same time period.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment remains down 144,400 jobs, or 10.2 percent. In California, total nonfarm employment is down 1.6 million jobs, or 8 percent compared to a year ago, while the U.S. is down nearly 13 million jobs, or 8.8 percent.

Sector Employment Split on Gains

Government accounted for the largest monthly losses, losing 12,800 jobs in July, primarily concentrated in local government education (down 13,200 jobs) and state government education (down 500 jobs). Compared to a year ago, local government education is down 8,300 jobs, and state government education is down 4,900 jobs. Local government education employment is largely women occupied (70 percent). Job losses in local and state government education have the potential to set back women in the workforce, a trend already exasperated by the pandemic according to a United Nations report.

Construction followed with a decline of 1,100 jobs. Construction of buildings declined both monthly and annually, which is especially important as the region continues to grapple with a housing affordability crisis. Without construction jobs, home building stops. Home price growth continues to outpace incomes, as housing production is about half the rate necessary to keep up with job and population growth. Ensuring San Diego is an attractive and affordable place for talent and business is critical to maintaining its regional competitiveness.

Trade, transportation, and utilities employment increased this month, adding 6,100 jobs. This was driven primarily by retail, which added 4,200 jobs. Clothing and clothing accessories stores grew by nearly 13 percent in July. As California clarified social distance retail guidelines, many retail stores were able to reopen, leading to an increase in employment.

The leisure and hospitality industry gained back 100 jobs in July, but remains down 60,800 jobs compared to a year ago. Nearly 40 percent of leisure and hospitality industry employees are Hispanic. These jobs are not likely to return in large numbers while social distancing remains in effect.

A Long Road to Recovery

Industry employment remains well below pre-pandemic levels seen in February 2020. The largest decline in employment has been the leisure and hospitality industry, down 49,500 jobs, or 25 percent. Government employment is down 30,200 jobs, educational and health services is down 20,300 jobs, and trade, transportation, and utilities, which includes retail, has lost 18,000 jobs since February.

While some jobs have been recovered, many will be lost permanently. Creative training programs to get these workers employed in growing occupations will be key to our economic recovery. Furthermore, the pandemic has exacerbated the inequities that have long-plagued the region, particularly our Hispanic population. Developing an economic recovery strategy that promotes inclusive growth is essential to ensuring our future economic competitiveness.

 

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.

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San Diego’s Economic Pulse: July 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers June 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Unemployment Slightly Lower

The region’s unemployment rate was 13.9 percent in June down from a revised 15.2 percent in May 2020, and far above the year-ago estimate of 3.3 percent. The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than the state unemployment rate of 15.1 percent, but higher than the national unemployment rate of 11.2 percent during the same time period, respectively. Read more about EDC’s unemployment analysis.

Employment Continues to Recover

Between May 2020 and June 2020, total nonfarm employment in San Diego increased from a revised 1,301,700 to 1,355,700, a gain of 54,000 jobs. EDC’s COVID-19 survey of businesses shows that more than 60 percent of firms surveyed reduced their staff between March and May due to COVID19.The June employment numbers reflect jobs gradually returning to the region. This is consistent with state and national data. In California, nonfarm employment increased by 558,200 in June from the month prior, while payroll employment increased by 4.8 million in the U.S. during the same time period.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment remains down 153,600 jobs or 10.2 percent. In California, total nonfarm employment is down 1.7 million jobs, or 10 percent compared to a year ago, while the U.S. is down nearly 13 million jobs, or 8.5 percent.

Sector Employment Slowly Returns

The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for the largest monthly gains, adding 34,700 jobs in June, primarily concentrated in food services and drinking places as restaurants reopened. While it is encouraging that the food services and drinking places sector has increased employment the last month, the industry still has 20 percent fewer jobs compared to a year ago. Tourism is still not close to recovered and likely will take much longer, the accommodation industry has 44 percent fewer jobs compared to a year ago.

Trade, transportation, and utilities employment increased this month, adding 9,500 jobs. This was driven primarily by retail, which added 6,800 jobs. Clothing and clothing accessories stores grew by nearly 49 percent in June. This aligns with national retail sales, which jumped 7.5 percent in June. The Census Bureau reported retail sales are 1.1 percent higher than their levels from a year ago, but those gains could be short-lived as infections begin to rise and closures continue.

Construction followed with an additional 4,100 positions, and educational and health services recovered 2,800 jobs lost between April and May. The bulk of job gains in educational and health services came from Ambulatory Health Care Services. The largest monthly employment decline was in government, with a loss of 3,900 jobs, as public finances continue to face revenue challenges.

Looking Ahead

While the employment report reveals solid monthly job gains, San Diego’s economy will likely face more job losses in the coming months. Just last week, the Governor announced more closures to retails and dining in. As industries close again, temporary layoffs are more likely to become permanent and the unemployment rate may rise again. Looking ahead, it is critical that workers have ample access to job training in order accelerate the economy’s recovery.

As educators plan for the upcoming school year, they are faced with unprecedented circumstances. San Diego Unified announced an online only fall learning plan, a first in the region. The lack of on-campus education will not only impact students and children with special needs, but also the working parents that depend on schools and daycare while at work. There are 180,000 households with two working adults and school-aged children. That means there are at least 360,000 workers in our region whose productivity or presence at work is being impacted while the virus remains a threat.

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.

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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.

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: June 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers May 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Unemployment Unchanged

The region’s unemployment rate was 15.0 percent in May, unchanged from a revised 15.0 percent in April, and far above the year-ago estimate of 2.8 percent. The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than the state unemployment rate of 15.9 percent, but higher than the national unemployment rate of 13.0 percent (not seasonally adjusted) during the same time period, respectively. Read more about EDC’s unemployment analysis.

Employment Bouncing Back

Between April 2020 and May 2020, total nonfarm employment in San Diego increased from a revised 1,290,800 to 1,309,000, a gain of 18,200 jobs. Overall, from February when the pandemic first began to May 2020, San Diego employment has declined by 205,500 jobs. In California, nonfarm employment decreased by 2.9 million in May from the month prior, and payroll employment increased by 2.5 million in the U.S. during the same time period.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment declined by 195,800 jobs or 13.0 percent. In California, total nonfarm employment decreased by 2.3 million jobs, or 13.0 percent, from May 2019 to May 2020 compared to the U.S. annual loss of 17.7 million jobs, or 11.7 percent.

Sector Employment Slowly Returns

The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for the largest monthly gains, adding 7,900 jobs in May, primarily concentrated in food services and drinking places as restaurants began to reopen. While it is encouraging that the food services and drinking places sector has added jobs the last month, the industry has 40 percent fewer jobs compared to a year ago.

Educational and health services increased employment this month by 5,500 jobs, concentrated by 6,300 positions in health care and social assistance. Non-emergency health services added 5,800 of those positions, which accounts for roughly half of the jobs lost between March and April.

Construction followed with an additional 3,500 positions, and business/professional services recovered 2,500 of the 11,000 jobs lost between March and April. The bulk of the job gains in professional services came from administrative services, which includes temp help and employment services. This is particularly encouraging, as these types of jobs tend to become permanent over time and is an indicator of job growth in the relatively near future.

The accommodation industry continues to struggle with a monthly decline of 1,900 jobs, or 14 percent, in May. Accommodation industry employment has declined by nearly 64 percent from May 2019 to May 2020. While San Diego employment in accommodation is larger than many other regions, the job losses are in line with both San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties.

While job losses were not as extreme this month, clothing stores employment is about half its level from a year ago.

The largest monthly employment decline was in government, with a loss of 4,700 jobs, concentrated in state government — particularly state government education, which includes public colleges —and consistent with national trends.

As San Diego’s economy continues to reopen, current labor market trends provide a glimpse of the long-term effects on the economy. While some industries have brought back jobs, others are slower to recover. And while the May data brings some good news, it will take some time to recover from unprecedented levels of unemployment.

Economy in crisis: SD jobs report for May might not be as bad as initially feared

  • EDC projects SD unemployment to peak at around 16 percent in May, far less than externally produced estimates of 30 percent or more
  • While the U.S. recovered jobs in May, gains are most likely concentrated in states and cities that have reopened ahead of California
  • SD job growth will resume in the Summer months but could level off in the Fall until a vaccine is widely available

May’s employment picture might not be as bad as initially feared. A couple of weeks ago, we published a report that stated the May job cuts in San Diego could potentially be on par with the extraordinary losses suffered in April’s employment report. Those numbers were based on estimates for local retail sales along with city and county unemployment rates that were produced externally. While the estimates for more than a 50 percent decline in retail sales from February to May don’t seem unreasonable, it appears that the May unemployment rate projection of 30 percent or higher is well above the official rate to be reported by the Labor Department on June 19.

OUTLOOK IMPROVES ON INCOMING DATA

San Diego unemployment correlates closely with California continuing unemployment insurance (“UI”) claims. Continuing UI claims in California averaged about 2.9 million in May—above the 2.6 million registered in April, but certainly not enough to double unemployment across the state, including San Diego. EDC estimates that May unemployment in the region will be reported at closer to 16 percent, up from 15 percent in April and nearly half the rate estimated earlier during the pandemic.

EDC’s much lower unemployment projection is supported by incoming state and national data. For instance, the U.S. unemployment rate was reported as 13.3 percent in May, down from 14.7 percent in April. San Diego unemployment has differed from the national rate at times, but the probability that San Diego unemployment would have settled at a level at or above 30 percent given the lower national figure is, in essence, a statistical impossibility.

Additionally, the ADP national employment report showed that small business job losses slowed considerably in May from April. Small businesses employ 45 percent of the San Diego workforce, compared with just 29 percent nationally, suggesting that layoffs have abated for a wider swath of the local labor force than for the U.S. as a whole.

Taken together, the May jobs report for San Diego is anticipated to show an additional 10,000 to 15,000 job losses. While it would have been unfathomable to cheer on such a report just a few months ago, it is far less than the 150,000 to 175,000 job cuts implied by the 30 percent unemployment estimates produced earlier and also strongly suggests that the worst of the COVID slowdown has passed.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

The May job cuts projected by EDC for San Diego may seem to contradict the official U.S. job figures released last Friday that showed 2.5 million job gains and a lower unemployment rate. However, the gains in the national report almost certainly reflect jobs that were recovered in states and cities that reopened ahead of California. San Diego has moved to reopen somewhat faster than other areas of the state. Even so, it would be surprising if local job growth is registered ahead of the June employment report, because the May employment figures were estimated on data received during the week of May 12, before local businesses began to reopen.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Barring a second wave of COVID-19, employment in San Diego is expected to start climbing again in June, but the region is unlikely to recoup the jobs lost since February for quite some time. Businesses will call back a sizable portion of their workers as they reopen, but a return to normal for the local job market won’t take hold until after a vaccine has been made widely available. After an initial bump in the summer months, job growth will likely continue at a much more measured pace until consumers begin to feel comfortable venturing out into larger crowds and businesses can once again operate at full capacity—something that most likely will not happen before 2021.

For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.

Regardless of how this all plays out, EDC is here to help. You can use the button below to request our assistance with finding information, applying to relief programs, and more.

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San Diego’s Economic Pulse: May 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers April 2020 and reflects some effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. Check out EDC’s research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego’s economy.

Unemployment Skyrockets

The region’s unemployment rate was 15.0 percent in April, up from a revised 4.2 percent in March 2020, and above the year-ago estimate of 2.9 percent. During the 2009 recession, unemployment peaked at 11.1 percent in January 2010 and again in July 2010. The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than the state unemployment rate of 16.1 percent, but higher than the national unemployment rate of 14.4 percent during the same time period, respectively.

Employment Declines More than the Great Recession

Between March 2020 and April 2020, total nonfarm employment in San Diego decreased from 1,494,000 to 1,299,400, a loss of 195,000 jobs. For context, during the 2009 recession, the largest monthly non-seasonal job loss in San Diego was between June 2009 and July 2009, with 22,900 jobs lost, and the local economy lost a total of 119,000 jobs from Dec 2007 to Jan 2010. Put differently, more than 25 months of job losses occurred in San Diego in April alone because of COVID19. The month-over-month job losses are consistent with record-breaking state and national trends. In California, nonfarm employment decreased by 2.3 million in April from the month prior, and payroll employment declined by 20.5 million in the U.S. during the same time period.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, over 78 percent of all unemployed Americans in April reported being “on temporary layoff.” On the surface, this could mean that a sizable portion of those laid off will be able to get back to work in relatively short order. However, with many retail and food service businesses reopening at only partial capacity, the return to work may be longer than expected, and some who reported being on temporary layoff may ultimately be laid off permanently.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment contracted by 199,200 jobs or 13.3 percent. In California, total nonfarm employment decreased by 2.3 million jobs, or 13.4 percent, from April 2019 to April 2020 compared to the U.S. annual loss of 19.4 million jobs, or 12.9 percent.

Sector Employment Suffers

Every one of San Diego’s 11 industry sectors lost jobs in April. Leisure and hospitality accounted for the lion’s share, shedding 96,200 payroll positions, or nearly 50 percent of its workforce. Within the leisure and hospitality sector, accommodation and food services lost 80,700 jobs, or 49 percent. California similarly saw widespread layoffs. Similar to San Diego, in California, leisure and hospitality posted the largest contraction at 866,200, which was more than double that of trade, transportation, and utilities, which gave up 388,700 payroll positions. This was also true nationally: job losses were spread across every industry, but cuts were especially severe in leisure & hospitality, which gave up some 7.7 million positions.

Retailers reduced employment by 20,300, or 14.3 percent in April, with the largest employment decreases in clothing and department stores. SANDAG estimates a potential loss of taxable retail sales of 53 percent in May, assuming a 3-month disruption from COVID19. This implies more retail job cuts could be on the way in the May employment report.

Understanding the ongoing economic damage caused by COVID19 can be daunting, as the numbers involved are often so far out of scale with the rest of historical data that it is difficult to even contextualize what they mean. Overall, COVID19 has accelerated unemployment and job losses at a level unheard of.

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: April 2020

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This analysis covers March 2020 and reflects some—but not all—of the early effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. The San Diego jobs report estimates conditions in the job market as of the week of March 12. However, many of the actions taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus took place during the second half of the month, so the full extent of the impacts to the labor market are not apparent in the most recent report.

EDC’s COVID-19 Business Survey Analysis shows that the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on San Diego’s economy are severe, concentrated, and disproportionally affect small businesses and low wage workers. These results are corroborated by skyrocketing initial claims for unemployment insurance, both nationally and in California. While this is not fully reflected in the March employment data, it implies a dismal April jobs report should be expected along with downward revisions to the advance March estimates.

A Developing Picture

The region’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in March 2020, up from a revised 3.2 percent in February 2020, and above the year-ago estimate of 3.5 percent. The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than both the state and national unemployment rates of 5.6 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. According to EDC’s survey of businesses, 75 percent of San Diego businesses plan to furlough employees, lay off employees, temporarily shut down operations, or permanently close. As firms decrease their workforce, unemployment insurance claims have spiked to historically unprecedented levels.

Between February 2020 and March 2020, total nonfarm employment in San Diego decreased from 1,514,500 to 1,504,400, a loss of 10,100 jobs. The month-over-month job losses are consistent with state and national trends. In California, nonfarm employment decreased by 252,000 from 19,516,000 to 19,264,000 in March from the month prior, and payroll employment declined by 701,000 in the US during the same time period. While the numbers have been eye-opening, it is likely that the data will continue to deteriorate substantially in the April and May job reports before any turnaround takes hold.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance have skyrocketed across the US in recent weeks. New filings for unemployment in California topped a million for the week ending March 28, eclipsing the previous record of 115,000 claims before the COVID-19 outbreak. Initial claims “eased” somewhat to 918,000 in the week ending April 4 and to 661,000 for the week of April 11. According to EDC’s survey of businesses, 388 employers plan to eliminate 14,844 jobs; nearly 69 percent of their workforce. Nearly all expect those reductions to happen immediately or within the next 30 days.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego added 13,000 new payroll jobs or 0.9 percent. Year-over-year employment gains in San Diego are consistent with, both, the state and national employment growth rates of 0.9 percent and one percent, respectively.

Unexpected Immediate Impacts

Surprisingly, professional and business services and construction accounted for the bulk of job losses, shedding 3,700 and 3,400 payroll positions respectively. Similar to the national trend, government led all industry sectors in month-over-month San Diego job gains, adding 1,200.

The industries in San Diego most vulnerable to the effects of policies aimed at containing the spread of the virus include arts, entertainment, and recreation, accommodation and food services, wholesale trade, and retail. Together, these industries accounted for about one in four local jobs and $18.5 billion in salaries and wages in 2019. Given the deep roots of those industries in the local economy, the ripple effects of job losses are expected to be significant: for every 1,000 jobs lost in retail, wholesale, the arts, or food services, an estimated 500 jobs would be lost in other industries across San Diego.

Between February 2020 and March 2020, employment in these most vulnerable industries dropped by 600, or 0.2 percent. While wholesale trade, retail trade, and accommodation and food services recorded job losses, the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry reported a small gain of 100. Job cuts in these industries were concentrated in wholesale trade, which let go 1,100, or 2.3 percent, of its workers.

These reductions (0.2 percent) are less severe than both the state and national employment declines of 1.6 percent and 1.3 (0.7 unadjusted) percent, suggesting the full scale of the impacts is yet to be captured by the data. Looking at food services, for example, if San Diego experienced the same monthly decline in sales as the US (26.5 percent), we should have seen sales drop by approximately $32 million and more than 3,200 jobs lost in those industries alone. Our survey of San Diego businesses shows they anticipate even larger revenue declines than what is contained in the US retail sales report. The bottom line is that the full extent of the damage incurred by the local job market is unlikely to be revealed for at least several months.

Please remember that EDC is here to help during these extraordinarily difficult times and that we are all stronger together. For general COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please view this page.