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Economic Development

Key Facts and Figures

With its warm, year-round climate, 50 miles of sun-soaked coastline and world-famous attractions, San Diego is a top tourist destination. But this Southern California metropolis with a laid-back vibe is also home to cutting-edge businesses in life sciences, genomics, biotechnology, telecommunications, Smart City technology, software, electronics and other major innovative industries.

Here's why San Diego is a great place to live and work:

  • Rated No. 4 among Top Life Science and Biosciences locations (Jones Lang LaSalle 2015)
  • 14 advanced industries produce $42.1 billion and pay $116,600/year on average (Brookings Institution)
  • Rated No. 1 in concentration of military/defense assets in the world (San Diego Military Advisory Council)
  • Rated No. 2 as the Most Inventive City in the World (Forbes 2013)
  • Global connections with direct flights to Tokyo, London and Shanghai (Map attached)
  • No. 1 most-patented Sports and Active lifestyle sector with 1,200-plus companies in the region (San Diego Regional EDC)
  • Home to University of California San Diego (UCSD), ranked  No. 3 public university in the United States, No. 17 in the world (World University Rankings 2016)
  • Ranked No. 1 for lowest average commute times among peer cities (Talent, Where San Diego Stands, 2016)
  • Selected as one -- and the only North American -- city named among National Geographic’s “World Smart Cities” (2015)
  • Called “Best Place to Launch a Startup” (Forbes 2014)
  • Had record-breaking 2016, attracting 34.9 million visitors who spent an all-time-high $10.4 billion and supported a tourism sector of 183,000 jobs (San Diego Tourism Authority 2016)
  • 80-plus educational and research institutes in the region

Base Sectors

The following four base sectors constitute the backbone of San Diego's economy:

  • International Trade
  • Manufacturing
  • Military
  • Tourism


  • Several school districts serve San Diego, the San Diego Unified School District being the second largest in California.
  • 335 private schools throughout the City of San Diego.
  • About 369,878 people in San Diego are enrolled in school, from nursery school to graduate or professional school.
  • 17 percent of San Diegans have a graduate-level or higher degree, while 42.3 percent of San Diegans, older than age 25, have at least a bachelor's degree.
  • Almost half (49.9 percent) of San Diegans, older than age 25, have at least an associate's degree while 87.3 percent of San Diegans, older than 25, have at least a high school diploma.


  • Population Statistics for the City of San Diego
  • The median age of San Diego's population is 34.9, with 25 percent of its residents younger than 20 and only 12 percent older than 64, according to SANDAG.
  • With more than 1.37 million people, San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and the second-largest in California.
  • More than 100 languages are spoken by San Diego residents who have come from all parts of the world to live here.