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San Diego Is Adding Jobs, But Are They The Right Jobs?

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San Diego is adding jobs but there is worry the job gains may not be good in the long run.

San Diego's improving job market is widely expected to continue driving the region's economic growth, but the rising tide isn't raising all boats equally.

Photo credit: SD Dirk / Flickr

The downtown San Diego skyline is seen from Point Loma, July 20, 2008.

San Diego's index of leading economic indicators showed robust economic gains the first four months of the year and that hints the region's economy should continue to grow this fall. An improving labor market is serving as an engine for the rest of the economy.

"We've got a big drop in initial claims for unemployment insurance, a big rise in help wanted advertising. So they are two positive elements and they had boosted the index and it has driven the unemployment rate to below five percent," said Alan Gin, author of the San Diego Index of Leading Economic Indicators.

The overall employment numbers may look great, but Gin is worried that the jobs being added are low-paying positions.

That's a concern raised by others. San Diego Association of Governments chief economist Marney Cox said recent job gains mask some troubling trends.

"Below the surface of that, I think people are struggling with wages," Cox said.

"They're struggling with quality of job growth and opportunities, that way. And so, that ability to live here and make your paycheck stretch, I think, is probably worse today than it has been in a long time," Cox said.

There are still a lot of people in the region looking for work, according to Cox. He said many people who gave up on the labor market during the recession will probably try to re-enter the workforce as the unemployment rate falls.

Cox said that will likely apply pressure to keep wages low.

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