The San Diego job market went more or less nowhere in 2010.

This is clear from the chart below, which measures seasonally-adjusted employment over the past several years.  The year 2010 began on a positive note, first and foremost because the exceedingly rapid job losses that had characterized the prior two years finally came to a halt.  The stabilization of the job market was itself good news.  On top of that, local employment managed to grow — albeit quite slowly — for the first half of the year.  (The blip up and then back down in May was the result of temporary census hiring, but without that distortion employment increased through June).

Unfortunately, the job market weakened again in the second half of the year.  It was not the bloodbath material that we’d seen in 2008 and 2009, but it was enough to offset the earlier gains and render 2010 as a whole almost entirely devoid of job growth.

The good news is that things did pep up a bit at the very end there.  Here’s another graph of employment, except that this one is not seasonally adjusted (no attempt is made to compensate for the seasonal ebbs and flows in hiring).  The November estimate was revised upward so that employment that month was estimated to be positive on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the pre-panic days of early 2008. 

December’s further employment gain improved things a little further both in year-over-year and absolute terms.  Again, the improvement was marginal — there were .5 percent more people employed in December 2010 than a year prior.  But at least that number is positive.  For comparison, the worst month of the recession by this metric was July 2009, in which employment fell on a year-over-year basis by 6.4 percent.  Here is a look at year-over-year employment since the start of the recession in the housing bubble related sectors, the government sector, and the non-bubble private sectors:

To put these incremental improvements in perspective: as of December, San Diego employment remained 7.3 percent lower than it had been at the official start of the recession exactly three years prior.  Filling that hole will require job growth that is far, far faster than anything we’ve seen to date.

Please contact Rich Toscano at and follow him on Twitter at

Rich Toscano has been observing the housing market for Voice of San Diego, with the occasional prolonged absence, since 2006. Follow him on Twitter at...

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