On Thursday of this week, I went to the 32nd Annual San Diego County Economic Roundtable at the University of San Diego. It featured six professionals who work in different segments of the San Diego economy. Here are my takeaways from each speaker and my final summation for the future of San Diego County.
Marney Cox, Chief Economist, SANDAG: Mr. Cox believes San Diego needs to invest in the infrastructure that will bring high paying jobs to the area. It is very easy for San Diego to continue increasing the number of hotels, restaurants and shops, but those businesses provide mainly low paying jobs.
Ryan Ratcliff, Associate Professor of Economics, USD School of Business: Mr. Ratcliff spoke mainly of the national economy and the fact that the current recovery has been going on for an historically above average amount of time. We are nowhere near being in any bubble, even though we may hear that on the media..
Tina Ngo Bartel, Director of Business Programs and Research, San Diego Workforce Partnership: Ms. Bartel told the audience about the many programs and benefits the Workforce Partnership brings to San Diego. The Workforce helps to retrain and place workers with area companies that are weary of hiring unproven employees.
Navrina Singh, Director Product Management, Qualcomm: Ms. Singh explained the need for high-tech, and not just biotech, investment in the San Diego area. There are several incubator programs in the area to help get innovations to market and create jobs.
Cory Shepard, President, GREATER San Diego Association of Realtors: Mr. Shepard showed slides of housing inventory data at only 1.5 – 1.9 months. Historically in recessions, that number is 8 months. The real estate market in San Diego continues to increase in average price and sales volume each year since 2011 when the excess properties left over from the housing crash were purchased by investors. Low interest rates and continued low new housing permits in the county means the housing market should remain steady in 2016.
Marc M. Martin, Vice President of Beer, Karl Strauss: The craft beer industry is booming nationwide and especially in San Diego. There are over 110 breweries in San Diego now with 40 more in fermentation, as it were. Karl Strauss breweries only sell their beers only in California and have no intention, currently, of selling the company to a large investor. Breweries provide a good starting place for college graduates to start their careers.
I found the panelists and their views to be quite interesting. The day started with some chat about the Chargers and the chances of keeping them here. Stats show that cities who lost an NFL team and got a new one to replace it spent 150% as much public money as they would have spent to keep the original team in place. If that holds, the 330 million the city is offering the Chargers may turn into 800+ million to recruit a new team to San Diego.
Overall San Diego is keeping the companies and people it has, it is growing slowly, and is approaching an inflection point that could change the future of the city and its workers. There are lots of job-seekers and lots of jobs, but they are not matching up. The jobs that are on offer are low paying and part-time. The infrastructure needs to be improved to increase opportunities including with the border crossing. The cost of housing will continue to rise. One good item San Diego has going for it: previous conservation means San Diego is not facing a water shortage!
Your comments or questions are welcomed. Thanks for reading.