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Research Blog

February 23, 2018

A world leader in 3G, 4G and 5G wireless technologies, Qualcomm is San Diego County’s largest publicly traded company. The locally-grown company has, quite literally, put the smart in our smart phones.

More than that though, Qualcomm has poured into the San Diego community. Its innovation and investment in this region has catalyzed life-changing developments in robotics, unmanned systems and mobile health, as well as inspired more than 3,300 students to pursue careers in STEM through its Thinkabit Lab.

And as Qualcomm juggles an unsolicited offer from Broadcom and a record-breaking acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, there is no denying that this San Diego tech innovator has shaped the region's economy and connected millions across the globe.

EDC recently produced an economic impact assessment of Qualcomm, based on 2017 data. The numbers:

  • In 2017, the total economic impact of Qualcomm on the San Diego region’s economy was an estimated $4.9 billion. This is equivalent to 35 Comic-Cons.
  • While Qualcomm directly employs 13,000 people locally, Qualcomm’s presence in the region impacts an estimated 36,050 jobs when considering direct, indirect and induced effects (expenditures of production, B2B spending and local spending of wages by employees and other businesses).
  • Every dollar generated directly by Qualcomm results in an increase of almost $2 in the San Diego region’s GDP.
  • In 2017, Qualcomm impacted approximately $3.4 billion in wages in the regional economy.
  • In 2017, Qualcomm impacted an estimated $7.9 billion in economic activity (output).

EDC will release the full economic impact assessment on Qualcomm in April. Stay tuned.

Follow along and share your support with #QualCOMMUNITY.


February 21, 2018

Recovering from a decrease in employment during Q3 2017, San Diego, and the overwhelming majority of the most populous metros, experienced an increase in employment during Q4 2017. The region’s total nonfarm employment grew 22,100, or 1.5 percent during the quarter. Compared to a year ago, nonfarm employment was up 21,100, or 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in Q4, the lowest the region has seen in the last 17 years and down from 4.1 percent in Q3.

Key findings from the Quarterly Economic Snapshot:

  • San Diego closed Q4 2017 with an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, the 7th lowest among top U.S. metros and below the state rate of 4.2 percent.
  • With the holiday season in full bloom, the retail sector continued to grow, adding 7,500 jobs in Q4. Other strong contributors to the quarterly employment growth were professional, scientific, and technical services and state and local government, together adding 13,200 jobs.
  • The median home price rose slightly from the previous quarter, and is now up 7.4 percent compared to a year ago.
  • VC dollars in the region increased 33 percent compared to a year ago.

The Quarterly Economic Snapshot analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. This releases includes data from October to December (Q4) 2017.

Read it here, and see our research center for more.

February 14, 2018

Last week, President Trump signed a two-year budget deal that included a hike in the debt ceiling and agreements to raise spending caps for domestic and defense programs.

For San Diego, a community where 20 percent of our GRP is tied to the military, this bill provides some stability and relief from the constant threat of continuing resolutions and sequester.

In order to better understand how fluctuations in defense spending impact our regional economy, EDC has released “Mapping San Diego’s Defense Ecosystem,” as well as a data visualization tool at This is the first of its kind regional analysis that focuses on the industrial composition of the defense supply chain and quantifies the number of firms and jobs that are impacted by defense spending. This project was executed as part of phase one of Propel San Diego, a Department of Defense funded grant initiative awarded to the City of San Diego.  

Specifically, the web tool provides deal flow information at the zip code level and by industry across the county. Why this matters: the 2019 budget includes two Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) priced at $1.1 billion. These ships will likely be built by General Dynamics NASSCO here in San Diego. While those contracts are awarded over a period time, by using this new tool, users can see that this funding will have a direct impact in creating more than 1,000 jobs in the shipbuilding and repair industry.

Key study findings include:

  • San Diego is the second largest recipient of defense procurement dollars in the U.S. 
  • A strong network of suppliers and access to customers are key reasons that 71 percent of firms have a favorable view of San Diego as a place to do business.
  • Defense contractor jobs have grown 6.3 percent over the last three years, and are expected to grow another 9.3 percent over the next year.
  • Since 2012, the majority of contract dollars received by the region were awarded by the Department of the Navy, each year awarding between 44 and 55 percent of total awards.
  • The majority of contract dollars were awarded to companies in the manufacturing industry, each year receiving anywhere between 47 and 68 percent of total contract dollars.

These resources provide companies, city planners, workforce agencies and economic development organizations better insights into how legislation like the bill signed into law last week can impact the San Diego community. The data has the potential to help companies prepare for new market opportunities and help communities prepare for changes in workforce demands, as has helped inform how EDC can better prioritize our limited resources in support of the region’s defense industry.

Following the successful execution of Propel San Diego’s phase one, the City of San Diego has been awarded a phase two grant for an additional $1.7 million. For more information, visit

Read the full study here.


January 19, 2018

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases industry data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers December 2017 data, including unemployment, new business establishments and job postings.
Highlights include:
  • The region’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in December, unchanged from November. The unemployment rate is nearly one full percentage point below the December 2016 rate of 4.1 percent, and the lowest since December 2000.
  • Most jurisdictions saw no change in their unemployment rates from the month prior. However, four jurisdictions did see small increases of 0.1 percent.
  • The labor force shed 7,700 workers in December, after adding 4,800 workers in November. The month’s decline effectively halved the year’s gain, which ended up 7,800.
  • Year-over-year, construction growth outpaced all other key sectors, up 4.3 percent.
Read the full Economic Pulse here.