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North County’s Economy Hit Hard By Recession But Recovering

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North County was hit harder than San Diego as a whole by the recession but is also rebounding faster in some areas.

That’s just one of the conclusions in an economic report produced for the second North County Economic Summit.

Several hundred business leaders will gather for the event Tuesday at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, hosted by the San Diego North Economic Development Council.


2015 San Diego North Economic Development Council Prospects Report

2015 San Diego North Economic Development Counc...

2015 San Diego North Economic Development Council Prospects Report

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That's one of the conclusions of a report released Tuesday as part of the second North County Economic Summit being held in Carlsbad.

North County has a population of almost 1.2 million people. It contains nine cities as well as large, unincorporated areas of the county. As the report points out, this is a larger population than in eight U.S. states.

The economic drivers in the region are seven industry clusters that include clean technology, biotech and biomedical devices, tourism and agriculture, health care, and sports lifestyles.

Carl Morgan, CEO of the San Diego North Economic Development Council, said these industry clusters have created thousands of jobs since 2010.

“We actually added 17,000 jobs in North San Diego County," he said.

The region’s high paid jobs have increased faster than in San Diego as a whole, Morgan said.

“That’s a 10 percent increase in the top tier higher paying, higher skill jobs,” he said. “It was 8 percent in the rest of San Diego County and 6 percent in the U.S. — so we’re substantially higher than the U.S. and a few percentage points higher than San Diego County in general.”

However, the downside is that middle-class jobs have not increased as fast as high or low paid jobs.

Challenges facing North County are high home prices, water shortages and traffic gridlock.

Photo by Alison St John

Hundreds of business leaders attend the second North County Economic Summit at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, March 10, 2015.

Morgan said he expects most of the growth in North County to happen along the state Route 78 corridor because more land in business parks is available there than in the coastal cities.

The summit will include panels on land and capital for North County’s industry clusters, education in an innovation economy, and how to develop tomorrow's talent.

Key findings from the report

• North County experienced a 5 percent increase in office inventory with a corresponding 10 percent increase in average rents from 2010 to 2014, while over the same period of time the rest of San Diego County saw a 2 percent decline in office inventories and only a 5 percent increase in average rents.

• San Diego County ranked second among all U.S. counties in 2013, with a total of 4,805 approved utility patents.

• Start-up investment was responsible for the majority of all reported investment in the North County region, with companies receiving over half a billion dollars in venture, seed or angel investments in 2014 (37 percent of all start-up funding in San Diego County).

• North County information and communication technology start-ups received more funding than their counterparts in the rest of San Diego County ($138 million) in 2014.

• Health care and manufacturing expanded while agriculture and communication technology contracted.

• North County residents are a higher educated population proportionally when compared to the rest of San Diego County and the state. Almost two of every five individuals (25 years of age and older) in North County possesses a bachelor’s degree or higher (38 percent), which indicates a vibrant talent pool for businesses in the region.

• North County has a larger resident workforce than the total amount of workers employed in the region (resident workforce: 510,000; employed in the region: 459,000). This signifies that the North County is generally an exporter of higher-skilled workers.

• Nearly half (48 percent) of all households in North County accumulated at least $75,000 in yearly income (rest of San Diego County: 38 percent; California: 41 percent).

• Thirty-nine percent of homeowners with a mortgage and nearly half of renters (49 percent) allocated more than a third of their household earnings to shelter in 2012.

• Almost 409,000 workers (87 percent of all workers 16 and over) drove to work alone in 2013, while 53,400 carpooled, and 8,500 took public transportation on a regular basis.

• More than one-third of all commuters 16 years of age and older (36 percent ) in the North County spend at least 30 minutes or more getting to work.


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