San Diego’s Changing Business Landscape: The next normal is here

San Diego Regional EDC is excited to kick-off our Changing Business Landscape Series, which will be published bi-monthly in the San Diego Business Journal and on our blog.

Surveying the changing business landscape in San Diego

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of life, including how businesses operate. The San Diego region began the year with near-record high unemployment and widespread small business closures. Meanwhile, large companies across the globe have extended remote work well into 2021 and are even abandoning their corporate campuses. Companies in every industry are rapidly re-evaluating how they do business and 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, EDC began surveying more than 200 employers in the region’s key industries in January. Given the uncertainty of this moment in history, EDC will continue to survey these companies on a rolling basis throughout 2021 to monitor and report out shifts in their priorities and strategies. These insights will help inform long-term economic development priorities around talent recruitment and retention, quality job creation, and infrastructure development. Businesses are surveyed on several topics, with varying emphases in each wave.

Here are three key findings:

  1. Everything is different, yet the future is bright. The pandemic has fundamentally altered how businesses operate across key industries. However, most companies are optimistic about their ability to pivot and emerge even stronger.
  1. Remote working is no longer a perk or competitive advantage—it’s the standard. Most companies view remote working as here to stay. This is viewed as both a benefit and as a threat to employee retention.
  1. Long commutes have been replaced by a blurring of work-life boundaries. Companies are struggling in maintaining employee morale and engagement. While many are seeing signs of employee burnout and isolation, few report significant concerns with retention.

San Diego’s innovation cluster rises to meet the challenge

One year into a global pandemic, San Diego’s most innovative companies and industries are well on their way to economic recovery. In fact, high-wage jobs—many of which are concentrated in aerospace, life science, and technology industries—have more than recovered from the pandemic-driven recession. This is welcome news as these are key drivers of economic growth in the region. In fact, every “innovation” job supports another two jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Even though growth has returned to the innovation cluster, the pandemic has disrupted the way these companies operate. The overwhelming majority (83 percent) of companies surveyed agree that the pandemic has fundamentally altered their industry. Yet, nearly as many (81 percent) feel that their industry has been able to adjust and remain healthy. Even more encouraging, 87 percent believe their industry will emerge even stronger once the pandemic has ended after adopting new ideas and implementing new strategies. However, those in the aerospace industry express somewhat lower levels of optimism, as the industry faces continued uncertainty around travel safety and demand.

Confidence is somewhat lower among smaller firms. Only 77 percent of those with fewer than 50 employees agree that their industry would emerge stronger and 10 percent strongly disagree. This likely reflects the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on small businesses, regardless of industry. While those in leisure and hospitality have certainly been the hardest hit, even small firms in professional and business services, including scientific and technical services, are currently experiencing lower revenues compared to before the pandemic.

Yet, the strongest signal for optimism comes from the direct response in combatting the novel coronavirus. San Diego companies have been among those leading the fight in everything from personal protective equipment and diagnostics to therapeutics and vaccine development. The life-changing and life-saving companies have pivoted and innovated yet again, drawing in record levels of venture capital investment. In the fourth quarter of 2020 alone, the region received nearly $2.7 billion in venture funding—with almost three-quarters going to life sciences and healthcare companies—which is more than three previous quarters combined, and $2 billion more than Q4 2019. The surge in investment and jobs recovery has the majority of innovation companies confident in the region’s ability to grow in prominence, or remain steadfast as a global leader in tech and life sciences.

The war for talent has no bounds

Talent has always been San Diego’s competitive advantage. People come from all over the world to get educated and build meaningful careers in everything from software engineering and autonomous vehicles to genomics sequencing and cybersecurity. San Diego’s innovation industries are among the highest-paying and fastest-growing in the region. Despite a global pandemic, many of these industries are accelerating hiring. The information sector, including telecommunications and information technology services, posted 20 percent more unique job ads in December 2020 than the year prior.

However, top talent remains hard to find. And while many of the jobs in these industries have shifted to either partially or fully remote, there are mixed feelings about whether it is a benefit or a detriment to talent recruitment and retention. Perceptions are tied to a company’s approach to attracting remote talent (see below). On one hand, a majority of respondents think that their ability to hire and retain skilled talent will not be impacted by the pandemic because of remote work capabilities. Many have expanded their recruitment beyond San Diego’s borders and are willing to accommodate working from outside the region to retain the very best talent. These San Diego-based companies that view the world as their pool for talent are embracing a global workforce that can get the job done from anywhere.

Yet, there is also a large minority of companies that view the pandemic as impacting the way they hire and retain talent. Again, the shift to remote work is cited as the top reason, with an even larger proportion (35 percent) identifying it as the cause for their pessimism. In fact, 45 percent of survey respondents rate hiring new employees during the pandemic as either “difficult” or “more difficult” than before, compared to 18 percent who view it as “easier” or “much easier.” Furthermore, nearly half of respondents cite talent recruitment as an area needing assistance and 20 percent identify it as an “urgent need.”

The pandemic has leveled the playing field for markets aiming to attract the best and brightest knowledge. San Diego’s competition with companies and regions across the country has increased. The region’s high cost of living is by far the biggest impediment to talent attraction, with 44 percent of respondents identifying high home prices as the most negative attribute of the San Diego market. This is due in large part to housing production not keeping pace with employment growth. As a result, San Diego has the second highest median home price among the 25 largest metros in the U.S., behind only San Francisco, and home prices jumped another 11 percent in 2020. Ensuring San Diego is an attractive and affordable place for talent and business is critical to maintaining its regional competitiveness.

Responding to workers’ needs is top of mind for companies

Transitioning to a remote work environment has been challenging. Business leaders are acutely aware of the need to balance conducting business as usual and responding to the changing needs of a newly remote workforce. Survey respondents report signs of ‘zoom fatigue,’ blurred work-life boundaries, and isolation among employees. While it has not yet significantly impacted retention, a full 60 percent of respondents rated “maintaining employee morale” as more challenging during the pandemic.

Furthermore, respondents expressed concerns about returning to an in-person work environment, recognizing that not all employees will want to return to the office immediately or full-time. This next phase of work will bring about a new set of challenges and a need for new policies, systems, and support for San Diego workers. Many questions remain around how much space will be needed and how it might need to be reconfigured to accommodate a flexible work environment that is also responsive to new health and safety requirements.

Survey respondents rated individualistic factors related to professional growth and work-life balance as the most important attributes to a competitive market for talent attraction and retention. This differs greatly from perceptions from just four years ago, when top universities and an entrepreneurial spirit were more top of mind. The desire to adapt and respond to the most pressing needs of its workforce, reinforces the notion that San Diego businesses value talent above all else.

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: sandiegobusiness.org/research.

This research is made possible by:

Study release: North County’s manufacturing industry poised for recovery, growth

A marketing initiative of EDC and the five cities along the 78 Corridor, Innovate78 serves to spotlight the businesses and innovators that make our region competitive.

Today, Innovate78 released a new report, The Future of Manufacturing in North County, which finds the industry will continue to prove its resiliency and positive economic impact in the region—even amid trends in automation, globalization and COVID-19 ramifications. According to the study, manufacturing accounts for $18 billion annually (or seven percent) of the area’s economy, and while many of the 813 local manufacturing firms were impacted by coronavirus, 58 percent of survey respondents are looking to increase their space.  

The study analyzes trends in employment, which is concentrated in high-value goods like computer and electronic product manufacturing. This sub-industry specifically accounts for nearly one-third of all manufacturing jobs in North County, with 12,746 employees of the total 40,151 jobs reported in the study. This number is expected to grow nearly six percent in the next five years—continuing to position manufacturing as a key driver of North County’s economy.  

Flux Power, a company represented in the study that manufactures advanced lithium-ion battery for industrial and commercial equipment, increased both their staff and revenue in 2020 amid the pandemic. With more than 100 employees, the Vista-based company is now looking to increase both its production and nonproduction space within the region.  

“The need to be efficient, safe and environmentally-conscious is high, especially now, as businesses plan for post-COVID-19 recovery,” said Chuck Scheiwe, chief financial officer of Flux Power. “Manufacturing products that empower others to improve their day-to-day efficiencies will be critical in our industry and region’s future growth, and we’re proud to be part of it.”  

The study reports that during COVID-19, North County manufacturing companies were undoubtedly impacted by the pandemic, with 43 percent of respondents reporting a loss of revenue in 2020. Looking at net growth, however, there was a reported one percent increase in manufacturing jobs, with 186 manufacturing jobs lost and 956 gained as noted by respondents. Most job losses were in medical manufacturing, while most job gains were in machinery manufacturing.  

One company that reported job gains is Quik-Pak, an Escondido based computer and electronic manufacturing company. In addition to anticipating upscaling facilities in the future, during COVID-19 Quik-Pak hired staff and reported increased revenue.  

“The strength of the manufacturing industry in North County San Diego is one of the reasons we wanted to expand here,” said Rosie Medina, vice president sales and marketing of Quik-Pak. “The talent pool is rich, and there is space to grow. We appreciate that not every region has both of these critical components that are needed for our industry to thrive.”    

Automation, globalization and COVID-19 are obvious pressures affecting North County’s manufacturing industry. However, as Quik-Pak and Flux Power note, the need for innovation and talent remain strong. There are 9,804 manufacturing jobs with a higher-than-average risk of automation—that’s nearly 24 percent of all North County manufacturing jobs. Investment in upskilling and re-training will be needed to help move these workers into other quality jobs over time.  

From craft beer to surfboards, to life-changing medical devices and technology services, manufacturing has long been a pillar of the region’s economy, with impacts spanning beyond our community,” said Jordan Latchford, research manager of San Diego Regional EDC, the study author and managing entity of Innovate78. “This study confirms the manufacturing industry in North County is poised for a strong recovery, and will remain a significant economic driver for the San Diego region.”  

read the full report

LEARN MORE ABOUT SAN DIEGO’S MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY

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A note from Mark Cafferty…

Over the last few years, our work at EDC has shifted to focus on our full economic footprint across the county. In everything we do, we strive to implement programs, strategies, and services that will help us double our supply of skilled workers, enable our small businesses to create more competitive jobs, and increase the number of thriving households throughout the region. Now more than ever, we know that our work needs to be both meaningful and measurable to meet these goals. And we have little time to waste.

SMALL BUSINESS IMPACT

During our exploration of inclusive and effective economic development strategies, many roads led us to supporting the growth and sustainability of local, small businesses through purposeful partnerships with large businesses and institutions. Anchor institution strategies—defined procurement programs and partnerships that link local, small businesses with the region’s largest employers including hospitals and universities—have long been successful in fostering small business growth and supplier diversity. These strategies do not look to the large institutions to spend any more than they have already budgeted; they simply strive to increase the percentage of contracts and purchasing within the local economy. Small businesses, minority-owned businesses, woman-owned businesses, businesses located within specific neighborhoods or geographic regions—redirecting spend to any of these leads to more money flowing into the San Diego economy.

This month, San Diego Regional EDC released a study and a set of recommendations aimed at increasing economic opportunity and job creation through purchasing and procurement. What the report clearly outlines is how small shifts in procurement spending can have huge economic impacts in our region.

CONSIDER THESE FACTS

  1. Fourteen local anchor institutions surveyed spend upwards of $9.9 billion each year on a broad range of goods and services. Yet, only $247 million of the reported spending can be traced back to San Diego businesses.

  1. Only 14 percent of the overall spend is reaching small businesses and only 11 percent can be traced back to women and minority-owned businesses.

  1. If these same 14 anchor institutions and partners shifted just one percent of their construction spending to local businesses, it would result in roughly $32 million in local construction revenue, add $466 million to the local economy, and create nearly 4.5 thousand new jobs.

  1. Furthermore, if the same institutions shifted one percent in professional services (e.g. legal, administrative, etc.) to local businesses it would have a $56 million impact on the local economy and create more than 800 jobs.

A MEASURABLE SOLUTION

As we work our way through a complicated and unprecedented economic recovery, our small businesses need more support than ever. To ensure that we reach the businesses most in need of support, preserve our commitment to inclusion and diversity, and maintain our focus on work that is both meaningful and measurable, few strategies will serve our region better than this one. The leadership and decision making is local, the impact is local, and the partnerships and practices forged will create greater, local economic resiliency for years to come.

Asking our citizens to support our local, small businesses is important and noble. But at a time when individual and family spending is strained, and small businesses continue to struggle, the leadership, engagement, and actions of our large institutions are more important than ever.

We applaud the 14 anchor institutions and partners that have stepped forward to be a part of this work with us­—including key partners SDG&EUniversity of San Diego School of BusinessCivic San Diego, and the City of San Diego—and as always, we look forward to the full weight of our EDC investors in helping to challenge, support, and steer this work in the months and years ahead.

—Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, EDC

Study release: One percent shift in procurement could mean thousands of jobs for San Diegans

EDC study quantifies the impact of increased local procurement

Today, as part of a commitment to inclusive economic recovery, EDC released a study and set of recommendations for large employers to support small businesses by buying local. “Anchor Institutions: Leveraging Big Buyers for Small Business“ analyzes the spend of more than a dozen local anchors and demonstrates the impact of increased local procurement on quality job creation.

Anchor institutions are defined as universities, hospitals, local government agencies, the U.S. Navy and other large employers that are physically bound to the region.

In San Diego, anchors represent eight of the region’s 10 largest employers—providing more than 72,000 jobs. They purchase tens of billions of dollars in goods and services every year, and yet, local anchors send about one-quarter of all procurement spend outside the region.

The web-based study—procurelocal.inclusivesd.org—includes a summary of local spending, a cluster map of anchor institutions in the region, estimated economic impact from increased local spending, and a set of recommendations for growing quality jobs across San Diego through procurement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color and spurred the closure of one-in-three small businesses across San Diego. Local small businesses employ nearly 60 percent of the total workforce, which is double the national average, and are responsible for nearly half of all job growth in the last five years. Despite their critical importance to the region’s economy, many small businesses report struggling to attract customers and generate new sales.

“Small business resiliency will be key in getting this recovery right. This report further demonstrates the importance of connecting our region’s small and diverse businesses to large, institutional buyers,” said Eduardo Velasquez, EDC Research Director. “This will mean more quality jobs for San Diegans, more thriving businesses and a stronger regional economy.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Collectively, 14 anchors surveyed spend more than $9.9 billion each year on a range of goods and services, and only about $247 million of this reported spend can be traced back to San Diego businesses. Further, only a small proportion of this spend is reaching small (14 percent) and minority-owned or diverse businesses (11 percent).
  • Small shifts in procurement can mean big economic impact:
    • If the 14 anchors surveyed increased local construction spending by just one percent, it would put around $32 million into local construction businesses, adding $466 million to the local economy and helping create nearly 4,500 jobs in the region.
    • The same one percent increase in professional services (e.g. legal assistance) spending would pump nearly $12 million into local suppliers, resulting in an economic impact of nearly $56 million and support another 800 jobs.
    • The majority of these new jobs would be in industries with a higher-than-average concentration of quality jobs (those that pay middle-income wages).

“As a large employer that works with many diverse suppliers to meet our mission of delivering clean, safe and reliable energy, SDG&E understands the value small businesses bring to the regional economy,” said Christy Ihrig, vice president of operations support, SDG&E, anchor event and study sponsor. “When they thrive, our region thrives. To support economic recovery from the pandemic, we are more committed than ever to grow our supplier diversity program and encourage other local employers to do the same.”

Beyond impacts to suppliers and the regional economy at large, anchor institutions that buy from local, small, diverse businesses also stand to benefit. Specifically, several local anchors note that setting goals for greater procurement from these suppliers has resulted in greater customer service, supply chain diversity and resiliency, and stronger brand equity in the communities they serve.

“‘Shop local’ is about more than individuals; it means big business and organizations choosing to support their neighbors by buying in their communities. The City of San Diego takes pride in its efforts to work with local companies, is seeking increased opportunities to buy local and implores other local organizations to follow suit. Together, this is how we ensure a more equitable and inclusive San Diego,” said Mayor Todd Gloria, City of San Diego, study sponsor.

A CALL TO ACTION

To maintain our regional competitiveness, we need to create 50,000 quality jobs in small businesses by 2030, as outlined in EDC’s inclusive growth strategy. To do that, it’s imperative we help San Diego’s small and diverse businesses recover and thrive.

San Diego needs its largest employers (and our largest buyers) to commit to redirecting their procurement to local, small, and diverse businesses. To do this we must:

  1. understand individual institutions’ existing efforts;
  1. identify spend areas with high potential for inclusive, local sourcing; and
  1. define and track metrics that ultimately drive bidding processes.

We invite large firms to join San Diego Regional EDC’s Anchor Collaborative and help us shape and achieve this goal—join us here.

The report was unveiled today at the first in a series of Town Hall events. Watch a recording of the event here. Thank you to the study sponsors: SDG&E, City of San Diego, Civic Community Ventures, and the University of San Diego School of Business.

procurelocal.inclusivesd.org

Learn more about EDC’s inclusive growth goals

San Diego’s Economic Pulse: December 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 November 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 6.6 percent.
  1. San Diego retailers gear up for holiday season by hiring 1,800 employees, but sales continue to suffer.
  1. Shop local this holiday season and wear a mask.

Labor Market Overview

The region’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in November, down from a revised 7.5 percent in October 2020, and still more than twice the year-ago estimate of 2.9 percent. Unemployment continues to increase in San Diego’s unincorporated and poorer areas, while falling in wealthier areas. The highest unemployment area in the region was Bostonia at 12.4 percent followed by National City at 10.3 percent, and the lowest was Solana Beach at 3.6 percent.

The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than California’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, but slightly higher than the national rate of 6.4 percent. While unemployment continues to fall, much of the improvement can be attributed to government support. In fact, unemployment claims increased again this week showing as emergency aid has dried up—proof the local job market could once again backtrack in the coming months.

Total nonfarm employment increased by 14,300 in November. Trade, transportation, and utilities accounted for the largest monthly gains, adding 8,200 jobs last month, primarily concentrated in retail trade (up 1,800 jobs). Even so, compared to a year ago, retail trade is still down 6,200 jobs. Professional and business services followed with an increase of 2,800 jobs. Job gains were driven by administrative and support services, which added 1,800 jobs. Food services and drinking places continue to struggle, shedding 1,000 jobs last month, even before the mandatory closures that took place in December.

Compared to a year ago, San Diego nonfarm employment remains down 97,700 jobs, or 6.4 percent. Leisure and hospitality represent the largest share, down 35,300 jobs. Accommodation is down 12,900 jobs over the year, and food services and drinking places are down 22,400.

Retail Sales Decline

November marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season as shown by an increase in retail employment in San Diego. However, nationwide retail sales numbers were gloomy. Retail sales were down 1.1 percent from October (seasonally adjusted), which was much worse than expected and likely impacted by increased COVID-19 infections and decreasing household income as expanded unemployment benefits expired. Without a stimulus relief package from Congress, retail sales declines will likely continue and perhaps become severe as millions lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas.

Department store sales in the U.S. declined by 19 percent since this time last year and 7.7 percent since last month. Clothing and clothing accessories stores declined by 16.1 percent since last year and 6.8 percent since last month. Food service and drinking place stores declined by nearly one percent since last year and 4 percent since last month due to mandatory stay at home closures.

November’s retail sales were the worst since April, adding to the already growing list of signs that a slowdown in the recovery could be imminent. As San Diego’s retailers hire more employees for the holiday season, the call to shop local and safely becomes more necessary, especially given what appears to be a slowdown in consumer spending. Small businesses drive San Diego’s economy and create thriving neighborhoods. Check out some local favorites around the County.

 

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

EDC is here to help. You can use the button below to request our assistance with finding information, applying to relief programs, and more.

Request EDC assistance

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Economy in crisis: Job growth slows as we head into New Year

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. After an impressive October employment report, San Diego is set to end the year on a down note.
  1. Job growth in November is expected to slow, similar to the U.S., and fresh stay-at-home orders set the stage for a weak December and January.
  1. The string of weak employment expectations could delay a return to full employment from Spring 2021 to the Fall.

Given the way 2020 has unfolded to date, it’s only fitting that the year would end with a fizzle instead of a sizzle.

It looks like November’s jobs report for San Diego will serve up a slowdown similar to what was seen nationally. For the U.S., payroll job growth slowed substantially from 610,000 net jobs gained in October to a worse-than-expected 245,000 in November, on a seasonally adjusted basis. On a not-seasonally-adjusted basis, which is how the San Diego employment figures are delivered, U.S. job gains were cut by about two-thirds, from 1,587,000 in October to 517,000 in November. The fortunes of San Diego’s job market are tightly tethered to those of the nation’s, so we can expect a similar dynamic to play out here.

We won’t know for sure until the San Diego jobs numbers are officially released next Friday, December 18. But we can surmise some baseline conclusions based on the U.S. jobs numbers, California continuing claims for unemployment insurance, and recent stay-at-home orders issued by the state and county.

Based on the historical relationship between U.S. and local employment, it looks like San Diego gained anywhere between 7,500 and 8,000 jobs in November, down considerably from 21,500 the month prior. Moreover, some push and pull between industries will likely emerge.

The unemployment rate, which is calculated using a different survey than the one used to estimate nonfarm payrolls, appears poised to fall further despite the anticipated slowdown in payroll job growth. After falling 1.2 percentage points in October, from 8.9 percent to 7.7 percent, the rate could fall to around 7 percent in November. October’s employment report showed that a record 55,800 workers joined or rejoined the labor force, which has the effect of pushing the unemployment rate higher. So, if any of the mad rush back into the labor market was reversed last month, then the jobless rate could be shown to have fallen even as low as 6 to 6.5 percent.

SOFT END TO THE YEAR?

With the labor market slowing in November, it seems like a safe bet to assume a setback is in the cards for December, especially in light of the most recent COVID-19 shutdown orders. This certainly appeared to be the case in July when San Diego County reissued directives for non-essential businesses to halt or reduce operations as COVID infections surged and employment took a step back.

However, since San Diego’s job numbers are not adjusted for seasonality like the national figures, it’s important to realize that monthly employment patterns may reflect the seasonal ebb and flow of the job market. Looking back through history, San Diego has experienced July employment declines in 54 of the past 72 years that data are available, making it especially tough to tell if the dip this past summer was shutdown-related or simply a normal seasonal occurrence. In fact, the drop in July was just about average—slightly less so, actually—than those seen in most other years.

On the other side of the coin, employment has climbed in every December, except five, in the last 71 years as holiday hiring picked up. So, barring a double-dip recession in the region, the odds of any large-scale net job losses in December are slim. The more likely outcome is a slower-than-average job build if retailers and leisure businesses don’t bring on their usual volume of holiday staff—quite likely, given the fresh round of stay-at-home orders issued for the county.

MIXING THE INGREDIENTS TOGETHER

All in all, San Diego is looking at a string of underwhelming employment reports over the next several months. November will not repeat October’s healthy gains, and December could be flat to very modestly negative as holiday hiring is on pause amid COVID-induced shutdowns. January tends to show job losses as temporary holiday help is let go. However, if December holiday hiring is less robust than normal this year, then there will be fewer holiday workers exiting the payrolls in the beginning of next year. Nonetheless, most companies don’t tend to bring on many new hires in January, since interviewing and onboarding job candidates is usually interrupted by the holidays in November and December, setting the stage for a pretty weak month regardless.

It was recently mentioned that San Diego could return to full employment by April of next year if the average pace of hiring from April to October of this year was maintained. However, this is looking less and less likely, and a weak to flat November and December would put full employment closer to Fall 2021.

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Release: EDC study finds one in four local firms engaged in AI

EDC study quantifies impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning

San Diego industries that are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) support an estimated 175,680 jobs and $33.3 billion in annual gross regional product, according to a study released today by San Diego Regional EDC. Underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, “Measuring the Future: AI and San Diego’s Economy” is the first in a series of reports that will identify key industries and clusters where AI and machine learning (ML) have been implemented, and ultimately quantify the impacts of these technologies on San Diego’s regional economy.

The study—available at SanDiegoAI.org—includes a historic timeline, cluster map, and cross-references AI patent language with job postings to anticipate the future impacts of AI and ML on the job market.

AI and ML technologies have swiftly infiltrated most every facet of our lives as computing power and speed increase. Self-driving cars, algorithmic trading, customer experience bots and AI assistants like Siri and Alexa have become commonplace tools used by people at home and at work.

“The proliferation of AI and ML technologies promises to be a transformative force for businesses worldwide—and like in many innovative industries—San Diego is at the forefront. With this report, the EDC Research Bureau helps paint a picture of the impact of AI, proving its potential to grow jobs and even help narrow gender and racial wage gaps,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC.

Contrary to popular belief and despite current economic conditions, three in five AI developers (62 percent) expect to see the number of employees specifically engaged in AI-related work grow over the next 12 months. This means locally based AI talent could help meet growing demand across the U.S. as employers try to hire workers in earnest that possess skills readily available from San Diego AI. Notably, job postings data in Sun Belt metros like San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Tampa and Miami show that employers are struggling to fill positions requiring facial and speech recognition skills—key specializations of AI developers in San Diego. Meanwhile, predictive and forecasting AI could help alleviate hiring difficulties among firms in major economic and financial centers, including New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. More than eight in 10 AI developers in San Diego specialize in machine or deep learning technologies, a fundamental building block for predictive AI.

Large local companies in San Diego like Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman Corporation, ResMed and growing startups and small businesses like Lytx, Lockton, Traits AI and Semantic AI are helping to lead the charge in AI—enabling people and firms to operate more quickly and efficiently. Specifically, the use of AI or ML technologies largely supports four areas of firm activity: the development of new products and services, improved efficiency and productivity, reduced costs and an increase in business revenues.

“Booz Allen Hamilton is at the forefront of AI adoption, development and implementation, and we believe that San Diego’s companies can leverage this technology to meet their missions, attract talent and fuel economic activity,” said Joe Rohner, a Booz Allen director and leader in the firm’s analytics practice and AI services business. “We are energized that EDC’s report findings show local respondents see AI as truly helping the San Diego economy by creating more jobs—not eliminating them. People are essential to the ethical application of AI, and this technology will enable organizations and their workforce to increase productivity, quality and efficiency—in San Diego and globally.”

Despite AI’s productivity-boosting, job-creating power, a number of challenges remain. Top of mind for most local employers is the inability to source qualified talent. However, COVID-19 and the subsequent increase in remote work has expanded the talent pool for San Diego County’s AI and ML employers.

“Rapidly developing machine learning/artificial intelligence technology that enhances the work our men and women in uniform do every day is critical to the future of defense. Northrop Grumman is well positioned to continue to grow the local talent pipeline through our San Diego-based education programs so businesses in our community have the right skill sets available to support this important and rapidly evolving field,” said Alfredo Ramirez, Vice President of Northrop Grumman’s San Diego Autonomous Design Center of Excellence.

OTHER KEY FINDINGS

  • Average salary in AI/ML-concentrated industries is $127,960—3.9 percent above the national average for these industries and more than 70 percent above San Diego’s average worker salary.
  • For every 1,000 jobs gained in this cluster, another 1,400 jobs are created in other industries.
  • Survey proves AI adoption is creating job opportunities in the region:
    • 66 percent of firms agreed that the use of AI and ML has created new job opportunities
    • 54 percent of firms agree that AI and ML are increasing the need for more workers at their business
  • 31 percent of jobs in AI-concentrated fields require only a high school diploma and pay an average of $22.42 per hour
  • The boost to productivity and efficiency from AI and ML should lift wages in traditional or population-serving industries, which employ a larger share of women and non-white workers than other sectors, and could therefore potentially reduce gender and racial wage gaps as these technologies are adopted.

The report was produced by San Diego Regional EDC, underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, and sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation, ResMed, Lytx and Lockton.

Read the full study at SanDiegoAI.org

For more research from EDC, click here.

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.

Industry Profiles are back…and better

EDC’s Industry Profiles are back…and better than ever. Consistently our most visited pages on the former EDC site, we took some time to give them the refresh they deserved.

Not sure what we mean by ‘Industry Profiles’?

With breakthrough technology companies and research organizations, the largest military concentration in the world and a strong tourism industry, the San Diego region has one of the most dynamic economies in the country. Created by our Research Bureau, these profiles take a deep dive into the industries that make San Diego the innovation hub that it is, with data on employment, businesses, wages, and more.

San Diego regional industries to explore:

Visit our Research Page to see the new profiles

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.

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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