Far more people have returned to the San Diego County workforce in recent months, helping employers in a tight job market.
The district’s unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in March, the same rate as the previous two months, state labor officials said Friday. It was below the statewide average of 4.8 percent and above the nationwide average of 3.6 percent.
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San Diego County’s workforce—adults who either have a job or are actively looking for one—now number 1.62 million. It grew by more than 8,000 people from February to March, and the workforce is now larger, by about 20,000, than it was before the pandemic lockdowns.
Recruitment veteran Jeanine Wilson said she sees a flood of workers coming from two main segments: Generation Z and retirees. She said retirees have seen inflation and economic concerns drive them to work, as well as less fear of COVID-19, which has kept many older Americans at home. Many of America’s youngest working generation are joining the workforce for the first time, said Wilson, president of Ingenovis Health.
“A lot of us have been leaner with Generation Z” during the pandemic, Ingenovis Health said. “But there is now this natural pressure to start working.”
Two smaller trends, Wilson said, are people who decided to quit their jobs and get an education during the pandemic and are now returning to the workforce, and people who are moving to Southern California. With so much focus on California’s declining population, she said, I was a little surprised to keep meeting a new group of people who, after the pandemic, decided they wanted to “live their lives better” and follow the dream of moving to San Diego or other places in the area.
Nearly all of San Diego County’s job sectors added new jobs from February through March. The largest was leisure and hospitality (tourism) with 3,100 new jobs as hotels, bars, casinos and allied industries prepare for the tourism season. This was followed by the government (primarily education), adding 2,400 jobs.
Other categories adding jobs: construction, with 800 new jobs; Special Education and Health Services (Nursing, Social Assistance), with 700; professional and business services (legal, scientific, waste management, architectural), with 300; And other services (washing, maintenance, religious) for 200.
One category didn’t add jobs, and financial activities (real estate, insurance, investments), and two lost some: retail fell by 600, and information (broadcasting and telecommunications) dropped by 100.
When the unemployment rate is adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, it is closer to 3.6 percent, said Daniel Enemark, chief economist at the San Diego Regional Center for Policy and Innovation. This is compared to the seasonally average US average 3.5 percent at the same time, and 4.4 percent in ca.
He said tourism jobs are likely to continue growing over the next four months because employment in the sector usually peaks in July and August.
“Overall, our economy has been quite stable over the past three months,” Enmark said.
On an annual basis, the fastest growing sector in San Diego County was entertainment and hospitality, with 18,900 jobs. followed by private education and health services, with 10,800; professional and business services, with 6,300; government, with 5,000; and other services, with 4,800. No job categories were lost on a yearly basis.
State officials do not adjust unemployment rates seasonally for individual counties. Compared to other parts of California, San Diego County was in the middle of the group at 3.7 percent.
The rate was 5 percent in Los Angeles County, 3.4 percent in Orange County, 3 percent in San Francisco County, 3.2 percent in Santa Clara County, 6.9 percent in Santa Cruz County and 4.6 percent in Riverside County.