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Job Analysts Assess Region’s Potential For Full Reopening

• Labor Market analysis from San Diego Workforce Partnership, Manpower, and Point Loma Nazarene University assess positives and negatives of latest jobs report
• Industry professionals available for insights on the region’s path to economic recovery

San Diego CA— San Diego’s labor market showed some signs of further progress in May, but some of the numbers were disappointing as the region waited for its ability to fully reopen on June 15.

Industry Hiring

Nonfarm employment in San Diego County was essentially flat in May after adjusting for the typical seasonal hiring that occurs during that time of the year. Without that correction, the region added 2,000 jobs, with most of the gains in leisure and hospitality. When the data was collected, San Diego was still in the second least restrictive “orange” tier.

May’s report showed that San Diego has lost some momentum relative to the rest of California and the nation. Over the past two months, the region has not only continued to trail the nation in terms of its recovery, but it is also behind the State as a whole. As of May, San Diego’s employment trailed both the State and the U.S. in terms of its recovery. San Diego jobs were at about 92% of their pre-pandemic high of February 2020. In comparison, California’s recovery was at about 93% and the U.S. was at 95%.

“Two constraints faced San Diego businesses in May,” according to Reaser. “Many were not allowed to fully reopen and even more could not find employees. Filling job openings will now be San Diego’s major challenge in the months ahead,” she stressed.

Phil Blair, Executive Officer of Manpower West, is dealing with this challenge every day. He says, “The pendulum has totally swung to the side of employees, as businesses across the board compete for workers. Employees are taking more time to consider their options and companies need to present a compelling case for their job opportunities.”

The Workforce Partnership is pleased to see leisure & hospitality employment continue to grow, according to the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Senior Economist, Daniel Enemark. “These sectors remain understaffed, with accommodations 11,000 workers short and food services & drinking places over 25,000 workers short of pre-pandemic employment. If you are looking for a job, you can start right away. These sectors are urgently seeking workers, with many employers offering higher wages, providing more flexible schedules, and requiring less or even no experience.”

San Diego’s major sectors continue to recover at different rates. As of May, construction and utility jobs have returned to their pre-pandemic highs, but leisure and hospitality employment is only at 76% of that level.

Unemployment

San Diego’s unemployment rate fell to 6.8% in May from the prior month’s 7.0% after adjusting for seasonal volatility. This occurred as the number of new jobs exceeded the number of people coming back to the labor market or entering it for the first time.

Outlook: The Path Ahead

“San Diego’s economy could soar during the next several months if businesses can find employees,” according to Reaser.

Blair sums up the current situation. “So many more San Diegans could be working now if they wanted to. The San Diego unemployment numbers have barely moved. Leisure and hospitality are begging for workers, as well as manufacturing. For the good of their long-term careers, workers need to either return to their previous work or seek out a new exciting job, with the potential of higher pay either way.”

For more information from the San Diego Workforce Partnership, please contact Daniel Enemark at (619) 228-2903 or danielenemark@workforce.org.

For more information from the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at PLNU, please contact Lynn Reaser at (619) 849-2960 or lynnreaser@pointloma.edu.

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