Late last year I wrote a series of posts comparing two sets of available San Diego job surveys.  The first was the “establishment survey,” which polls local employers and attempts to measure the number of people working for San Diego businesses regardless of where they live.  The second was the “household survey,” which polls San Diego residents in order to find out how many residents are working, regardless of whether they work in the county or not.  The household survey also includes the self-employed, while the establishment survey (as we’d expect from a survey of businesses) does not.

At the time of these articles, the two surveys were providing mixed signals.  Whereas the year-over-year rate of employment change had begun to improve for the establishment survey (people working at San Diego businesses), it was languishing near its lows for the household survey (San Diegans working, including the self-employed).

In the end, for various reasons, I theorized as follows: “I suspect that the establishment survey — the one that has started to look a little better — is providing a more forward-looking read on what’s happening with local employment.”

Since then, the establishment survey has continued to suggest an improvement in local employment conditions. Let’s see what the household survey is saying these days:

After lagging for a while, the year-over-year rate of job loss measured by the household survey has indeed improved sharply. 

As with payroll employment, household employment has been growing in recent months. Here’s a chart, similar to the one I did for the establishment survey last week, that measures the number of employed San Diegans during each month since the beginning of 2007:

So far so good for 2010. 

After having provided mixed signals for a while, the household survey now offers corroborating evidence that job conditions in San Diego are improving.

— RICH TOSCANO

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