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County Job Market Made Modest Gains Through 2010

— San Diego’s unemployment rate has hovered above 10 percent through all of 2010. The picture may still be bleak but this year was better than the last.

There have been a few bright spots in the San Diego job market. Between January and November the county steadily added jobs in the professional service, education, health and hospitality sectors.

“We’ll end the year at best, with a gain probably of 5,000 to 6,000 jobs – a very modest gain,” said Dr. Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University. “But that certainly will be better than the 70,000 jobs we lost in 2009.”

The growth is better, yes. But, good? Maybe not.

“Right now it’s pretty narrowly based,” said Marney Cox, chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments. “With only a select few industries mostly contributing most of the growth, that’s not a good sign for your economy. A better sign for your economy would be more distributed growth.”

Looking ahead, Reaser believes San Diego could add up to 20,000 new jobs in 2011. However, Cox is predicting a more modest 6,000 to 12,000 jobs. Either way the county is a long way off from replacing the roughly 107,000 it has lost since the recession began in 2007.

The analysts agree that demand will increase for both low skill and highly educated workers, while mid-level job growth will lag. They also expect job growth to remain limited to the sectors that were strongest this year, such as health and education.

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