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The California Employment Development Department’s employment estimates for February indicate that San Diego job growth has essentially flattened out. The sectors that thrived during the housing boom are now suffering through the bust, and while employment is growing outside of the housing boom industries, it is doing so barely enough to offset the housing-related losses.

Between February 2007 and February 2008, the ailing construction industry lost 8,300 jobs or 9.5 percent, the finance and real estate sector lost 5,500 jobs or 6.7 percent, and the retail industry lost 700 jobs or .5 percent. (For more on the retail sector, see a recent article describing potentially overstated retail employment data and the followup piece describing the EDD’s subsequent downward revisions to that data).

Employment in the rest of the economy grew by 14,800 jobs or 1.5 percent, but that increase was almost entirely offset by the housing-related job losses such that the region as a whole gained a mere 300 jobs or .02 percent for the year.

San Diego’s unemployment rate weighed in at 5.0 percent in February, down from January’s 5.2 percent but up from the 4.3 percent rate in February 2007. To put this figure in perspective, local unemployment got as high as 8.6 percent during the worst of the early-1990s downturn and as high as 5.7 percent in the aftermath of the more recent recession.

— RICH TOSCANO

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