On the Job Hunt: If You Need a Job, Go to San Diego

Known locally as “America’s finest city,” it might surprise you that San Diego is the eighth largest in the country. Even more interesting, the thriving border metropolis has about 8,000 high-paying jobs sitting wide open and waiting to be filled.

According to Rory Moore CEO of CommNexus, a San Diego based non-profit technology industry association, says companies are offering big incentives to attract candidates.

“Local companies are offering rewards even bounties to their employees for finding engineers to come on board," says Moore.

The latest estimates in the area show about 2,000 job openings in mechanical and electrical engineering and at least another 6,000 in information-technology jobs.

Some listings are from local San Diego area businesses. But others come from larger American firms, and lately larger multinational companies intent on making inroads into the U.S. market have joined the job hunt, too.

Reuben Barrales from the San Diego Chamber says, “A lot of people think of San Diego as a beach town, a border town, but what we really are is an innovation center. Really the innovative industries of the future are right here in San Diego..right now."

Industry experts say that San Diego also has an emerging green job sector to go along with the well known bio-tech companies that have set up their bases just north of the city. But for all the need to hiring and openings, why can’t San Diego find the people to fill the need?

First off, the median salary in San Diego for these job openings is in the neighborhood of $94,000 a year, which is not so bad of a sum. However, when you consider the median home price in the area is around $330,000 and competing markets like Austin, Texas and Durham, North Carolina are $100,000 cheaper, choosing San Diego may not be so easy. Also the current housing crash has many homeowners under water and unwilling to lose the equity to move.

There’s also one more big reason. Many in the industry look for jobs in the Mecca of technology, about 500 miles north in the Silicon Valley, not in the beach atmosphere that slips under the radar in many instances. We found one person though willing to make the change.

"Everybody always talks about the Bay Area...the Silicon Valley this, the Silicon Valley that, but the opportunities here are just as good the jobs are fantastic and there's a lot of support," says Ariana Faustini who just joined an area software startup called NewBlue.

"The qualified applicants aren't coming here because they are trying to get that sexy Silicon Valley job, but that's here...Silicon Valley south."

Questions remains if San Diego can become that next big hub or if it can stiff arm the draw of the more well-known Bay Area locale and take the plunge in warmer Pacific waters. Area industry associations and companies hope that’s the case as they launch recruiting efforts, pound the pavement at colleges, attend job fairs and hope the line sticks.

So if you need a job, you might want to go to San Diego.