Now that the holidays are behind us, let’s take a look at some of the data. Early indicators point to another strong holiday shopping season in 2016, beating already lofty forecasts for retail sales1. San Diego’s employment grew by 12,100 in November, as retailers staffed up to meet the surge of shoppers2. But a lot of that hiring is seasonal, and these seasonal boosts are trending down. In fact, growth in retail trade employment has slowed dramatically over the past two years to a mere 0.1 percent.
Local employment in retail trade remains 2.8 percent below the pre-recession peak; 11 percent of regional unemployment comes from the industry3. This is because shoppers are increasingly turning to online retailers rather than brick and mortar stores – a trend that has continued to grow since the advent of e-commerce giants like Amazon.com (see chart below).
Traditional retailers are struggling to compete. Last week both Macy’s and Sears announced hundreds of store closures, which will bring thousands of layoffs across the U.S. In San Diego, Macy’s apparel store in Mission Valley will be shutting its doors, leaving 140 people without jobs4.
Changes in technology have had a profound impact on the economy and the composition of jobs. And while the tech boom has brought about gains in productivity, e-commerce and automation are displacing retail workers. These are jobs that are mostly held by women, and where more than half are held by people under the age of 355.
1. National Retail Federation: https://nrf.com/news/retail-sales-see-solid-gains-first-half-of-holiday-season
2. San Diego December 2016 LMI Release: http://www.labormarketinfo.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/sand$pds.pdf
3. EMSI; CA LMI; BLS; Infogroup
4. Macy’s Press Release: http://www.wsj.com/articles/PR-CO-20170104-910412
5. EMSI; CA LMI; BLS; Infogroup
As an organization that aims to support growth of San Diego’s regional economy, EDC understands the importance of including all communities in our work. There is much debate about what the term ‘inclusive economic growth’ means, and it’s something we are working with partners to better define in 2017. In order to understand – and define it – we must know where we currently stand.
EDC took a closer look at the 18 cities comprising the county. The large discrepancies in poverty rates, income and education across San Diego cities show that while we are part of the largest economies in the world, we have much to improve upon.
According to the American Community Survey, San Diego’s poverty rate is 13.8 percent – slightly below the national and state rates of 14.7 and 15.3 percent, respectively. However, eight cities in the region have poverty rates above the national average. The region’s educational attainment of 36 percent is above the national and state rates of 30.1 and 31.7, respectively, but 10 regional cities fall below the national rate. Similarly, even when the region’s median household income of $66.2K is over 20 percent higher than the national median household income of $53.7K, six out of the 18 cities fall below the national median.
Highlights from the analysis:
Understanding any economy starts with strong data. At EDC, we pour significant resources into research, so we can better understand San Diego's economic strengths, and even more importantly, our weaknesses.
Finding the right data to quantify our economy and understand where San Diego’s stack up with other regions is where it becomes more difficult. Many regions – including San Diego – call themselves innovative, but measuring it becomes more complicated.
In 2012, EDC joined the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project between Brookings and JPMorgan Chase, which helps metropolitan leaders grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness. Conducting independent research has been a cornerstone of the GCI since its launch.
This week, EDC/World Trade Center San Diego staff traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Brookings Global Cities Summit – a culmination of five years of research and exchanges to help metros grow their economy.
Based on five years of research, “Redefining Global Cities," the latest Brookings report, found that there were seven types of global cities.
There are the Global Giants – regions like London, New York and Paris; these cities are financial hubs and serve as the control center for the world’s largest economies. Then there are the American Middleweights (Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Saint Louis, etc.) and the International Middleweights (Frankfurt, Munich, Rome, Barcelona, Toronto, etc.): connected and important mid-sized cities where post-recession growth has lagged. And then there are the Knowledge Capitals – 19 mid-sized cities throughout the U.S. and Europe that are home to talented workforces and elite research universities.
San Diego is in good company as a Knowledge Capital with Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Stockholm, Zurich and others.
Turns out, when it comes to patent intensity, San Diego is second out of 123 global cities. When we say that San Diego is innovative, it’s not just boosterism – we have the data to back it up.
As a Knowledge Capital, San Diego may attract a highly-educated workforce and high-levels of entrepreneurship, but one area where it lags is foreign direct investment. Nearly 98 percent of our economic growth is going to come from growing small and medium-sized enterprises and startups already present in the region. San Diego’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative is not just an opportunity to connect with likeminded cities; it’s an opportunity to connect with and better understand our customers. After all, our SMEs will not reach peak growth rates without expanding their businesses and finding customers outside the region. As a response to this insight, we founded the MetroConnect Initiative, a comprehensive export assistance program now in its second year.
As a region, we’re proud to be known as a Knowledge Capital, but our work is still cut out for us. By connecting with other GCI cities, we can expedite our economic growth through careful understanding and analysis of best practices. And through insightful data and programs like MetroConnect, we’re hopeful that we’re well on our way.