Payroll Employment Revisions

San Diego County’s job growth in 2014 was not nearly as robust as economists first estimated.

Revised data released last week by the state Employment Development Department shows that the county added 30,208 jobs in 2014, about 4,000 fewer than originally reported. With the revision, the pace of annual growth declined from the original estimate of 2.6 percent to 2.3 percent, slowest since 2011.

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“Things aren’t as strong as we thought they were toward the end of last year,” said Alan Gin, economist at the University of San Diego.

The new data, called a benchmark, averages the number of people working in each month of the year to come up with the number of workers in a typical month. They’re based on more complete unemployment insurance data filed by companies, which lags throughout the year.

The revisions show that on average 1,348,000 people in San Diego County were on a payroll each month in 2014, up from 1,317,792 in 2013. While that’s the third consecutive year of 30,000-plus jobs added — best stretch since the late 1990s — it’s down from the 37,309-job gain from 2012 to 2013.

Throughout last year, the state reported that San Diego County’s job growth outpaced Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire, the state and the nation. The revisions show that the county only matched the annual pace in Los Angeles, and trailed Orange County, the Inland Empire, and the state as a whole.


Earlier this month, the EDD revised California’s jobs picture upward. The new data showed that California added 463,483 jobs in 2014, up about 140,000 from the original estimate. In Southern California, there were upward revisions of more than 22,000 in the Inland Empire, 18,000 in Los Angeles, and 7,000 in Orange County. The pace of annual job growth in the state rose to 3.1 percent, up from the 2.2 percent originally reported.

Esmael Adibi, economist at Chapman University, said the revised San Diego numbers are not a cause for concern. He noted that San Diego County benefited from a major revision upward in 2013, which was once again boosted in the recent state revision (and therefore causing the 2014 numbers to suffer in comparison). In 2014, job growth seemed to regress to the mean.

“San Diego was outpacing everybody in Southern California by far, and we were trying to figure out why. What’s happening?” Adibi said. “Some of that could be attributed to tourism, some to biotech and health care, so basically what they’re saying now is, ‘No, job growth was a little bit weaker in 2014.’ ”

Gin said some of the fields that had been overestimated include construction, up by 2,600 jobs, or 4.2 percent, and the well-paying professional, scientific and health services, up 4,600 jobs, or 3.7 percent. Leisure and hospitality grew the most, by 8,200 jobs, or 4.86 percent.

“We thought that we were getting big numbers in really high-quality jobs, and 4,600 professional, scientific and technical services jobs is good, but it’s not as good as the initial estimate (about 7,000),” Gin said.

The state also revised downward by 50,000 both the number of San Diego County residents in the labor force, as well as those who are employed (payroll or self employed). In 2014, the unemployment rate averaged 6.4 percent, with about 1.45 million people with jobs and 1.54 million people in the labor force. Labor force data from previous years, including 2013, are still being revised and could be released Friday.

This article was originally published in the San Diego Union Tribune and can be found HERE.