Steady growth in high-tech sectors, including biotech, cleantech, and medical technology, have been a boon to the San Diego region. Between 2000 and 2010, employment in these high-skilled fields increased over 20 percent in spite of the Recession. However, this prosperity fails to reach a majority of San Diego residents. According to PolicyLink’s National Equity Atlas, San Diego ranks #62 in income inequality among the largest 150 metro regions in the United States. Higher paid, higher skilled jobs are increasingly out of reach for a growing segment of the population, and lower skilled jobs in sectors like hospitality and tourism, offer stagnant wages and little opportunity for advancement.
Last month, the USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) released Linking Innovation with Inclusion: Demography, Equity, and the future of San Diego, a roadmap to unite diverse stakeholders under a common agenda and set of principles toward a more inclusive and sustainable future. The report lays out an ambitious set of policy recommendations that link high-tech with high-need. This means that addressing key issues such as affordable housing, education, and transportation, is an essential part of advancing San Diego’s high-tech potential. The report also outlines recommendations to boost civic engagement, better integrate immigrant communities, and address environmental disparities that disproportionately affect low income households and people of color.
The report also acknowledges that historical divisions among the region’s political and business elite may hinder advancement on these issues. To this end, the report extolls the virtues of data as a means to transcend political differences, drive deliberations, and reach shared goals. The report points to successful efforts in places like Salt Lake City (Envision Utah) to drive collaboration and results.
This report is a must-read for San Diegans interested in moving the needle on the region’s complex issues. Check it out here.