The good news is that the job market in San Diego is showing signs of turning around. Unemployment has dipped below 10 percent for the first time in nearly two years and many new jobs have been created, both on a month-to-month and year-over-year basis. In April, the local economy was up 13,400 jobs compared to April 2010. There was growth in higher paying sectors. Health care was up 3,500 jobs, and business, scientific, and technical services were up 2,800 jobs compared to 2010.
The fastest growth however, continues to be in relatively low-paying sectors. Leisure and hospitality was the sector with the biggest growth over last year with a gain of 4,500 jobs as the local tourism industry began to rebound; while administrative and support services, including janitors, landscaping, and temporary workers added 4,200 jobs.
Leisure & Hospitality: 4,500 jobs
Administrative and Support Services: 4,200 jobs
Health Care: 3,500 jobs
Scientific and Technical Services: 2,800 jobs
What can we do to create more higher-paying jobs? Back in the 1990s when San Diego last went into an economic downturn, local economic development officials and government leaders focused on some key high-paying clusters in order to bolster job and income growth. Similar efforts are underway today in four areas: defense and technology, telecommunications and software, biotechnology and medical technology, and new efforts in "green technology." Some of the new green efforts include the manufacturing of solar panels by Kyocera and efforts to convert algae into fuel led by the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology.
Greater coordination between local educational institutions and businesses to provide the skills needed for new high-paying jobs could also provide a boost to the economy in coming years.