According to the Employment Development Department latest estimates, seasonally-adjusted employment in San Diego is estimated to have dropped between December and January, and then to have rebounded somewhat February:

Here’s a look at non-seasonally-adjusted data; here both the January decline and February bounce are much more pronounced due to the typical seasonal patters (weak in January, stronger in February) not having been backed out.

Employment grew by .7 between February 2011 and February 2012:

The EDD revises the prior two years’ job estimates every March.  (This is why I constantly emphasize that the early figures are “estimates.”)  The number of employed San Diegans was revised down for 2011, but upward for 2010, with the 2010 upward revision being smaller than the 2011 downward one — resulting in fewer jobs than they were estimating last year.

The end result can be seen in this long-term graph of seasonally-adjusted employment, which shows that employment is (or at least was, as of the end of 2011) in an established uptrend, but remains well below peak employment levels seen in 2007.

One important and seemingly non-intuitive thing to keep in mind is that employment is not predictive of economic strength or lack thereof.  It is, as we say, a “lagging indicator”… employment tends to increase after other markers of economic activity have improved, and to decline after the economy has already slowed.  So a backward-looking trend towards higher employment doesn’t — by itself — mean that the economy will continue to improve in the future.  It doesn’t mean that it won’t improve either.  It simply doesn’t tell you that much about where the economy is going.  Just about where it’s been. 

Rich Toscano is a financial advisor with Pacific Capital Associates*.  He can be contacted 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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