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San Diego Job Market Fueled By Demand For Skilled Workers

People work on computers at a San Diego Workforce Partnership job center in San Diego, Feb. 5, 2016.
Susan Murphy
People work on computers at a San Diego Workforce Partnership job center in San Diego, Feb. 5, 2016.

The national unemployment rate has dropped below 5 percent for the first time since 2008, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In San Diego County, the number of people seeking work is also on the decline and stands at 4.7 percent — down from a high of 11.1 percent five years ago.

The strongest hiring in the region is taking place in a handful of sectors, including clean energy, software development, life sciences, manufacturing and health care, said Tina Ngo Bartel, director of business programs and research with the San Diego Workforce Partnership. The nonprofit, primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, provides job training programs and helps the unemployed find work.

“Health care has actually been recession-proof, (that) is what we like to call it,” Ngo Bartel said. “Clean energy is another one that has been fast growing, and that’s due to a lot of legislation and a lot of policy.”


She cited San Diego’s newly adopted goal to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

“The jobs are expected to grow in clean energy,” Ngo Bartel said.

She works with dozens of companies to find and train skilled workers.

“As an incentive for them to hire an individual who’s unemployed, laid off, who is basic skill-sufficient or on unemployment insurance — we give them a wage subsidy,” Ngo Bartel said.

Last year, the nonprofit worked with 187 companies to provide job training programs.


She encourages people seeking employment to get help by registering at one of the San Diego Workforce Partnership job centers.

“A case manager will check their eligibility,” said Ngo Bartel. “Then I can go to an employer and say, ‘I have all of these people who are at my job centers that are looking for a job. Do you want them in your training program?’”

During the past year, nearly 38,000 jobs were created in the county.

If you're looking for work, Ngo Bartel said, "My advice is to show that you have the tenacity to look for work, that you are dedicated, you are motivated, you’re a good worker, you’re a hard worker, you’re loyal and that you’re somebody that an employer can trust."