San Diego, CA Economic Overview
Located along the California coast, San Diego is as famous for its sunshine and beaches as it is for its vast military installations. The fact that it’s just miles away from the Mexican border greatly contributes to San Diego’s culture, tourism industry and economy.
San Diego’s economy revolves around a combination of industries: military and defense, international trade, education, healthcare, medical and academic research, technology and tourism. The city is home to the largest naval fleet in the world, while also attracting over 30 million visitors each year, with tourism injecting roughly $17 billion annually into the local economy.
The combination of its coastline and proximity to Mexico also makes it one of the most important trade hubs in the region and to the rich and vibrant San Diego commercial real estate market.
San Diego, CA Commercial Real Estate Market
While San Diego’s economy is heavily reliant on military and defense, it’s also home to a burgeoning office market, encompassing over 74 million square feet of office space throughout San Diego County.
Downtown San Diego, also known as Centre City, serves as the city’s financial, business, and cultural center. The Downtown San Diego office market is home to over 4,000 businesses, which stretch across the area’s nine districts.
Coronado office market relies heavily on both the military and tourism industries. The city’s highly-regarded beaches and famous resorts, like the historic Hotel del Coronado, attract visitors by the millions. But you’ll also find thousands of sailors at its U.S. Navy installations, which include the Naval Special Warfare Center–training ground of the Navy SEALs.
Point Loma, San Diego is also dominated by the defense and tourism sectors, with the Navy occupying roughly 1,800 acres and employing nearly 50,000. The center of the Point Loma, San Diego office market is Liberty Station, which consists of 361 acres of mixed-use space. The San Diego Airport is also located in Point Loma.
La Jolla office market is an important center for education, healthcare, biomedical and scientific research, as well as technology. It’s home to the University of California, San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute, and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, just to name a few.
San Diego, CA Office Rental Rates ($/SF/year)
Data provided by Yardi Matrix, for properties larger than 50K SF.
San Diego, CA Office Sales
Data provided by Yardi Matrix, for properties larger than 50K SF, which sold at over $5M.
San Diego, CA Commercial Inventory Breakdown
Total: 92,103,650 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 23,150,507 SF / 25.14% of total office
- 100k to 500k SF: 57,904,427 SF / 62.87% of total office
- 500k to 1M SF: 7,476,716 SF / 8.12% of total office
- > 1M SF: 3,572,000 SF / 3.88% of total office
- Class A+: 1,510,547 SF / 1.64% of total office
- Class A: 43,679,883 SF / 47.42% of total office
- Class B: 34,520,761 SF / 37.48% of total office
- Class C: 1,241,526 SF / 1.35% of total office
Total: 45,270,365 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 10,488,694 SF / 23.17% of total industrial
- 100k to 500k SF: 29,214,442 SF / 64.53% of total industrial
- 500k to 1M SF: 3,007,229 SF / 6.64% of total industrial
- > 1M SF: 2,560,000 SF / 5.65% of total industrial
- Class A: 12,058,194 SF / 26.64% of total industrial
- Class B: 16,700,811 SF / 36.89% of total industrial
Office Spaces with Retail
Total: 18,125,382 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 3,896,215 SF / 21.5% of total office with retail
- 100k to 500k SF: 9,716,935 SF / 53.61% of total office with retail
- 500k to 1M SF: 1,035,232 SF / 5.71% of total office with retail
- > 1M SF: 3,477,000 SF / 19.18% of total office with retail
Employment in San Diego, CA
San Diego’s workforce is one of the most educated in the world, with employment split between the city’s huge defense presence and highly-specialized fields like healthcare, education, and technology.
- Military/Defense: Employment in San Diego revolves around the military, concentrated around Miramar or Midway. In fact, roughly 5% of all civilian jobs are military-related, and 15,000 area businesses have contracts with the Department of Defense. San Diego is home to the largest naval fleet in the world, and the U.S. Navy alone employs nearly 30,000 people, making it the city’s biggest employer.
- Healthcare: Healthcare is another major employment sector in San Diego, with Kaiser Permanente, Sharp HealthCare, and Scripps Health ranking among the city’s largest employers. The county also has 140 contract research organizations, or CROs, making it an important hub of medical research.
- Education: The University of California, San Diego is one of the city’s largest employers, providing jobs for nearly 30,000 residents. San Diego State University employs roughly 7,000 and the San Diego Unified School District employs another 14,000. This is one of the area’s key employment sectors.
- Technology & Telecommunications: The Fortune 500 telecommunications company Qualcomm was founded in San Diego, and it remains headquartered here to this day. It’s also one of the area’s largest employers, with roughly 14,000 employees. There are several other tech and telecom firms operating in San Diego, as well.
- Public Sector: Between the military and the City and County of San Diego, which employ over 35,000, government jobs remain a crucial part of San Diego’s local economy.
- Agriculture: San Diego county is one of the top 20 overall agricultural producers in the country, and ranks #1 in avocado and nursery crop production. The farming industry injects $1.85 billion into the local economy and creates thousands of jobs.
Although manufacturing businesses don’t rank among San Diego’s biggest employers, the manufacturing industry as a whole remains an important part of the region’s economy.
Education in San Diego, CA
The majority of San Diego’s public schools fall under the San Diego Independent School District, which is the second-largest in the state.
More than one third of San Diegans over the age of 25 have bachelor’s degrees or higher, making it one of the most educated cities in the U.S. Some of its more important colleges and universities include the University of San Diego, San Diego State University, and the University of California, San Diego. The San Diego Community College District also has a large presence.
Commuting Time in San Diego, CA
In 2016, San Diego was ranked as having the 9th shortest commute time in the U.S., with an average of 23 minutes. Though roughly 80% of residents use automobiles as their sole method of transportation, the city does provide trolley, bus, and commuter rail service.
- You can find the schedules for the cities extensive trolley and bus systems, which are both part of the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), here: https://sdmts.com/schedules-real-time
- San Diego recently introduced a bike sharing program through DecoBike. Find out more here: http://www.decobike.com/sandiego/
San Diego Demographics
- Total Population1,401,932
- Male Population(50.3 %) 705,717
- Female Population(49.7 %) 696,215
- Median Age34.70
- Average Household Income$103,655
- Median Household Income$75,456
- Median Income Under 25$38,031
- Median Income 25-44$80,595
- Median Income 45-64$88,178
- Median Income Over 65$56,879
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