A Look At San Diego's Economy For 2018
The 34th Annual San Diego County Economic Roundtable kicks off Thursday at the University of San Diego. Sarah Burns is director of research and evaluation for the San Diego Workforce Partnership. She spoke with KPBS Evening Edition anchor Ebone Monet about job trends in the region in 2018. The interview has been edited for clarity.
Q: Give us a brief snapshot of what you'll discuss (at the Roundtable)?
A: What we're seeing right now in our economy is a really low unemployment rate which is exciting but also is leading a lot of economists to predict that we're going to see some slowing in our job growth. So we're looking at really the hardest to serve as our workforce that needs support right now. I'll be talking about some of the ways we can work with that population to help to meet the workforce needs of our companies.
Q: When you say the hardest to serve, what population are you referring to?
A: We have a large number of people who either don't have a high school diploma or stopped their education after high school. When we think about where a lot of the opportunities will be, it is in what we call middle-skill jobs. So jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. So helping to identify where those people are and help them get the training they need to fill those middle-skill jobs.
Q: San Diego Workforce has identified a potential shortage of educators?
A: Yes, that is actually a national trend. We see that over the past number of years, the education field has had trouble recruiting. We see a lower number of students entering education programs because of all kinds of things. You can think about the pay not being as competitive as we might like, some of the stresses that come with trying to create an educational environment that supports our workforce needs. It is certainly a challenge we are seeing in our county.
Q: San Diego County is known for tourism — what are you seeing in this respect?
A: Tourism has been growing strong. What we're finding is the best way to support people in tourism to progress in their careers. There's lots of low-wage, low-skill jobs in tourism which is healthy for the economy but also thinking about those people long term, how are we helping them ... to move on in their careers and take the skills they learned and do more with them while still have a pipeline to come in and fill those roles.
Q: What are 'priority sectors' that you've identified?
A: These are five sectors we really focus on because of high potential for growth and wages that pay above self sufficiency. Those five sectors are health care, life sciences, informational and communication technology, advanced manufacturing and clean energy. When we look at job growth in all of these since the recession, they've all been trending upward. These sectors are really important for our economy.
Q: Are there certain careers doing better than others?
A: Health care is a huge one. That's what we consider recession-proof. As the recession hit and all the other industries saw a decline, health care keeps growing because that's something we're always going to need.