San Diego Lags Behind State and Country in Job Recovery, Labor Market Report Says

Tables are bussed at True Food outdoor dining area at Fashion Valley on Feb. 6, 2021.
Tables are bussed in an outdoor dining area at Fashion Valley. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego County’s labor market has lagged behind the rest of the state and nation, even with the loosening of pandemic restrictions, according to a report released Monday.

Though the region added 2,000 jobs in May, mostly in the leisure and hospitality industries, overall nonfarm employment in San Diego County was “essentially flat,” according to the report from the San Diego Workforce Partnership, Manpower West and Point Loma Nazarene University. The report is based on employment data collected while San Diego County was in the orange tier of the state’s reopening system.

As of May, San Diego jobs were at about 92% of their pre-pandemic high from February of 2020, while California’s recovery was at 93% and the U.S. as a whole was at 95%, according to the report.

“Two constraints faced San Diego businesses in May,” according to Lynn Reaser, from the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at PLNU. “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.”

Different industries are recovering at varying paces, with construction and utility jobs back to their pre-pandemic highs, while leisure and hospitality employment are only at 76% of that level.