It’s the topic everyone is wondering about as the New Year gets underway.
The San Diego economy, circa 2024, will be up for discussion when the San Diego Business Journal presents its annual Economic Trends program.
Breakfast will be served, buffet style.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2024
8:30am – 10:30am
DELOITTE – 12830 El Camino Real #600, San Diego
As usual, speakers from several vertical markets will describe the economy from their unique points of view. Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, will return to moderate the conversation, tie the commentary together and offer some thoughts of his own.
Cafferty expressed a cautious optimism about the year ahead.
It’s likely 2024 will not be what he would call “an easy year.” The good news, Cafferty said, is the San Diego community has a better sense than in past Januaries about where challenges are and the direction the economy is headed.
With the Fed moving its levers on interest rates during the last few years, there is hope that recession has been averted and the much-discussed “soft landing” might actually be coming to pass.
“I still think there is uncertainty out there,” Cafferty said, noting that he sees businesses are hesitant to spend money.
Economic indicators don’t look bad, he said, and the tourism sector has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, Cafferty does not see an element of caution among tourists. People want to travel; the “pent-up demand” that economists speak about is “very legitimate,” Cafferty said. Tourism dollars flow through the San Diego County economy in a variety of ways.
“Job numbers look better,” Cafferty also said. “We’re at what a lot of people consider full employment.” In November, San Diego’s unemployment rate stood at 4.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Multiple Points of View
One of the highlights of the event is, to borrow a phrase from Cafferty, seeing the coming year through the specialized lenses of the panelists.
Panelists for the event include the following:
Kerry Forde, chief operating officer of Kaiser Permanente San Diego, who will discuss the delivery of healthcare in the post-pandemic world.
Mike Krenn, CEO of Connect, who will discuss efforts to spur San Diego’s innovation economy.
Alessandra Lezama, CEO and owner of TOOTRiS, who will discuss the nexus between child care and the economy, as well as the modernization of child care.
Juli Moran, San Diego office managing partner of Deloitte, who will discuss innovation in the life science industry.
Jamie Reid, one of the founders of C3 Insurance, who will discuss the effects of regulation on the insurance landscape.
As in past events, panelists will participate in a lively give and take with Cafferty moderating.
‘Four Critical Anchors’
The Jan. 31 event will consider the employer, the employee, the people who provide capital, the people in government and more – all against the background of the diverse San Diego economy.
San Diego’s economy, in Cafferty’s view, has “four critical anchors” that position it to do well. Those anchors are:
- Military and defense
- The U.S.-Mexico border
Most regions would “feel pretty good” if they had just one of those anchors, Cafferty said. “Two would be great.”
San Diego’s good luck is to have all four.
Where to Work?
San Diego has its challenges, of course.
There is the competition for talent. “It seems everybody is looking for talent,” Cafferty said.
As in past years, housing affordability is a concern, with only a small percentage of workers able to afford a median priced home. Employers cannot afford to take their eyes off the housing issue as well as other cost-of-living issues, he said.
Speaking of housing, the home has also turned into a workplace.
The shape of the post-pandemic office has yet to be decided. Businesses are feeling some “angst” about return-to-work policies, Cafferty said, including what days employees have to come into the office and just what constitutes office hours.
That thing called office culture is changing.
Different occupations require different schedules, and management may notice some sensitivity among employees who feel certain groups get more desirable schedules than others.
Workplace issues are still in flux.
That, in turn, affects the commercial real estate market. Managers are scratching their heads over how much office space they will need in the years ahead. Some employers take the “hotel” approach to running an office, assigning desks or cubicles for the day.
The option of hiring staff members who are physically outside San Diego County — maybe even in another state — is more real than ever.
2024 is uncharted territory. But those with an entrepreneurial spirit and some luck can venture into the wilds of the new year, take note of the landscape and build a business that generates a profit in a reasonable amount of time.
Registration is open for Economic Trends 2024, and seating will be limited.