Research from the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at PLNU, based on government data. Photo credit: Courtesy

San Diego’s economic recovery remains muted, according to a group of local workforce and economic experts.

Job gains during the past three months offset less than a third of the substantial losses suffered in March and April. That’s when public health orders took hold that closed or sharply limited operations at many businesses.

As a result, San Diego’s job total is now 167,000, or 11%, below February’s pre-pandemic peak. The region’s loss outpaces California’s and the nation’s as a whole.

July’s numbers also underscore the divide between different economic sectors and industries. Most industries slipped well below their February job levels, but leisure and hospitality is only at 75% of its February level. Personal services, private education, and information services also fell sharply.

Financial services, construction, warehousing, and utilities have seen more success in their recoveries.

“We continue to see large and abrupt shifts in who is hiring and not hiring,” remarked Peter Callstrom, CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “Occupational clusters in tourism and hospitality continue to be hit hard and may never be the same.”

At the same time, Callstrom pointed to new jobs for contact tracers and hospital greeters, which could lead to new career paths in healthcare.

“In less than six months, the job market has changed from the brightest to the bleakest for job seekers,” observed Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist for the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University.

San Diego’s jobless rate edged lower in July as some furloughed workers were recalled while fewer teens and others entered the summer job market. The county’s unemployment rate fell from 13.8% in June to 12.3% in July.

Seasonally adjusted numbers show a similar drop from 13.7% in June to 11.9% in July.

However, at around 12%, San Diego’s unemployment rate is quadruple the 3% rate late in 2019 and at the beginning of 2020 when, before the pandemic, companies struggled to find workers.

– Staff reports