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Population and Employment Projections

4 May 2011 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

San Diego’s population is growing in seniors and foreigners.

In the last 15 years, the region has actually seen a decline in people ages 25 to 35, young people who would be starting careers and families in San Diego. Instead, they are moving to Riverside, Imperial Valley and Mexico, where housing costs are more affordable. “They’re still accessing the (SD) job markets,” said Cox. “They’re just not in the county boundaries.”

Meanwhile, people ages 35 to 65 have increased in numbers. This means industries such as healthcare will keep growing, said Gin. At the same time, more foreigners have moved to San Diego, mostly from Mexico and Latin America.

While the region had huge population inflows in the late 90s, that growth has slowed in recent years. San Diego’s population growth, according to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce:

  • 2002: 51,542
  • 2006: 26,200
  • 2007: 25,000 projected
  • Total population projected in 2007: 3.12 million


San Diego will have fewer new jobs in 2007, economists said, but unemployment rates will remain stable.

In the last couple of years, the county has added 20,00 new jobs a year. In 2007, Cox expects this to dip to 18,000 new jobs. Gin is more conservative, placing that number at 15,000 new jobs in 2007.

In the past, about 35% of new jobs were in the construction industry. As the housing industry weakens, those jobs will evaporate. But the strong number of visitor industry jobs will ease this decline, said Cox.

Are all the new jobs in low-paying service industries? No. VC and grant money pouring into the region contributes to more middle-income jobs, said Cox. Also, the large number of down-sized employees who start new businesses creates a hidden employment that economists currently cannot account for.

The region’s unemployment rate is expected to remain stable, at about four percent. (Full unemployment is five to 5.5 percent. “We’re way below the state and nation,” said Cox.)


Gas prices also hurt or help the economy. More money at the pump means less money for other things. It also affects consumer confidence.

Gin estimates that every 10-cent raise in gas prices costs San Diego $7 million in the overall economy – each month. “People would be spending that money on gasoline when they could have been spending it on other things,” he said.

Despite the recent reprieve in gas prices, get ready for more sticker shock, said Gin. “In 2007, I think we will see a spike up again, due to economic factors, due to developments in the Middle East and worldwide demand for oil.”

This article is part of a comprehensive economic outlook. See related stories:

  • The Housing Market
  • 2007’s Strongest Industries
  • Population Changes & Employment

Follow Helen on Twitter @helenchang.

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