San Diego Job Gains Heavy in Leisure and Hospitality

San Diego is one of the few spots in the country that has seen the Leisure and Hospitality sector play a large role in job production during the current economic cycle.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, San Diego has added over 263,000 jobs since the cycle began in early 2010, growing the local job base by about 21%. This growth outpaced employment expansion in the nation overall, where the job base increased by nearly 16% in the cycle.

About one quarter of the jobs added in San Diego during the current cycle have been in the Leisure and Hospitality employment sector. More than 60,000 jobs were created in this lower-wage industry since early 2010, growing the sector’s existing base in the market by almost 42%.

Most of the Leisure and Hospitality jobs added this cycle tie back to the market’s tourism industry. Tourism makes up the second largest slice of San Diego’s economy, behind military and defense-related activities. According to a report from the San Diego Tourism Authority, there were 35.8 million total visitors to the city in 2018. The San Diego Convention Center hosted 68 conventions in 2018, and 17.8 million hotel room nights were sold in the area’s nearly 63,000 units. The Port of San Diego’s two cruise ship terminals logged over 107,000 embarking passengers in 2018.

Other markets that have seen the Leisure and Hospitality sector grow faster than any other industry since early 2010 include Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Providence, Virginia Beach and Washington, DC. In most of those markets, tourism makes a significant contribution to the local economy.

The Professional and Business Services sector, generally a higher-paying job segment, has been San Diego’s second-largest job growth industry during the cycle, accounting for almost another one-fourth of the market’s total employment gains. Roughly 55,000 jobs were created here, growing the existing base by 27%. Other big job growth areas in San Diego during the cycle have been Education and Health Services, which added over 45,000 jobs, and Mining, Logging and Construction, which saw 31,400 new positions created, growing that employment segment by a sizable 54%.

With all this recent growth, tourism related jobs in San Diego now account for 13.2% of the workforce, a few ticks above the 10.8% share in the U.S. overall. The most sizable job base in San Diego is the Government sector, which accounts for 17% of all the market’s employment, also well ahead of the national share. Like tourism, the Port of San Diego also plays a big part in Government, as it is home to the largest naval fleet in the world and serves as the only major submarine and shipbuilding yard on the West Coast. The Department of Defense employs thousands of sailors, soldiers and civilian defense contractors here.

The Professional and Business Services sector employs 16.9% of the total job base in San Diego, a bit beyond the 15.6% share of these jobs in the U.S. overall. Large companies headquartered in San Diego include soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner’s MobileOne energy company, restaurateur Jack in the Box and several wireless technology providers: Qualcomm, Nokia and LG Electronics.

Accounting for roughly 14% to 15% of the job base in San Diego were the Trade, Transportation and Utilities segment and Education and Health Services. These two employment sectors were behind the U.S. share of workforce numbers, however. Trade, Transportation and Utilities was most notably behind the U.S. share of over 18%.

For more information on San Diego, including the impact job growth trends are having on local apartment occupancy and rental rates, watch the recent RealPage Asset Optimization webcast Up Close and Local: San Diego Market Update.