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San Diego’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 3%

San Diego Has Nearly Recovered All Jobs Lost Amid the Pandemic

By Joshua Ohl CoStar Analytics May 24, 2022 | 8:05 AM

San Diego’s unemployment rate fell to 3% in April, according to the latest jobs report released by California’s Employment Development Department. That’s the lowest unemployment rate in the region amid the pandemic, and even below the February 2020 rate of 3.2%, the month prior to the pandemic disrupting the local economy.

In the past month, local employers added 7,900 to payrolls, pushing nonfarm employment above 1.5 million.

Leisure and hospitality continued to pace hiring, with month-over-month gains of 4,300, the bulk of which were in accommodation and food services.

Government added 1,500 jobs last month, while professional and business services added 1,300 to payrolls, 1,200 of which were in the professional, scientific and technical sector — heavy users of commercial space in the San Diego office market.

Biotech and high-tech firms have been driving commercial leasing activity in San Diego, with recent leases signed by Amazon, Apple and Bristol Myers Squibb in the area.

Biotech firms, for instance, accounted for almost 4.5 million square feet of new commercial leasing activity in the past year. As those firms take occupancy of their new space, headcounts are expected to rise.

Between April 2021 and April 2022, San Diego has boosted nonfarm payrolls by 88,300, or 6.2%, year over year. Leisure and hospitality accounted for nearly half of those jobs, at 42,600, followed by professional and business services, which added 19,800.

Every sector except for financial activities and manufacturing added jobs in the past 12 months.

When employment figures are benchmarked to February 2020 however, only two industries have fully recovered the jobs lost amid the pandemic. The professional and business services and construction industries have added 21,200 and 200 jobs, respectively.

The San Diego region is likely to surpass total nonfarm positions in the coming months after falling short of that benchmark in April’s report by 7,400 jobs. The manufacturing sector has the deepest hole to dig out of, a debit of 5,400 jobs relative to February 2020. The civilian labor force lost ground in April after nearly returning to the pre-pandemic levels in March. The latest report shows that the labor force remains in a shortfall of more than 25,000 people.

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