Amid all the talk of recession and default, it was truly good news this week to learn that San Diego County’s unemployment rate fell to just 2.9% in the final month of 2022.
The monthly reports from California’s much-criticized Employment Development Department are usually dry reading, but this one was surprising.
The December number was nearly a half-point drop from November’s revised 3.3%.
“San Diego’s job market continues to be robust. At 2.9% unemployment and with a growing pool of talent, we are the envy of most metropolitan areas,”noted Phil Blair, executive officer of the temporary employment agency Manpower San Diego.
Often the unemployment rate goes down for the wrong reason — people are leaving the job market. But this wasn’t the case in December.
The local labor force grew by 7,900 to 1,589,000, reaching its highest seasonally-adjusted level since the onset of the pandemic.
“The fact that unemployment decreased so much despite an influx of new workers into the labor force shows just how strong our labor market was last month,” the San Diego Workforce Partnership said.
Another bright spot in the San Diego numbers was a 1,700 increase in construction jobs. That bodes well for building new housing here and eventually solving one of the region’s most pressing problems.
Among large counties in Southern California, San Diego beat Los Angeles’ 4.4% unemployment number and Riverside’s 3.7%, but lagged Orange County’s 2.0%.
Overall the unemployment rate in the Golden State was 4.1%, but liberal urban counties generally had lower rates, and conservative rural counties higher rates.
For example, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s Kern County had 6.7% unemployment, but San Francisco County, a nightly target of Fox News criticism, came in at 2.0%, even less than San Diego.
If you want a job, perhaps it’s better to live in a blue county than a red one. In any case San Diego sure seems like the place to be right now.
Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.