For a long while, as the accompanying graph illustrates, employment sectors that benefited from the housing boom bled jobs while the rest of the economy continued to grow. That has changed in the past few months as employment weakness has spread throughout the economy.

As of October, according the California Employment Development Department’s latest estimates, year-over-year growth in the non-housing sectors was effectively zero. Given that the housing sectors continue to shrink, overall year-over-year job losses for San Diego leapt to a loss of 12,200 jobs or .9 percent.

I’ve included retail in the trio of housing beneficiary sectors (along with finance and construction) because the retail sector got such a boost from years of cashed-out homeowner equity back in the day. Clearly, though, retail activity is not solely dependent on housing, and the retail industry is shrinking faster now that employment weakness has become more widespread.

The only sectors that grew year-over-year by more than a couple hundred jobs were education/health (which grew by 2,400 jobs from last year, pretty much the same as the year-over-year increase of 2,500 jobs in September) and leisure/hospitality (which grew by 1,100 jobs from last year, down substantially from 2,000 new jobs in the year to September).

The unemployment rate for San Diego was estimated at 6.8 percent. This is high but still somewhat better than what was seen at the worst of the region’s early-1990s recession. Because of seasonal factors, months should be compared with like months. With that in mind, the worst October during the 1990s bust was in 1993, when unemployment reached 8.0 percent.

So even though mainstream media outlets are declaring this to be the next Great Depression, San Diego’s job market is — according to the EDD’s oft-revised estimates, anyway — as of yet more robust than it was at the worst of the 1990s recession.

— RICH TOSCANO

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