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July 2005

While San Diego has been known as a high-tech economy with high wages, urban renewal efforts over the last 30 years have created many jobs in Downtown San Diego paying poverty wages.

Shortchanged examines why many of the thousands of jobs created in the downtown redevelopment area are unhealthy for our regional economy. The report also offers solutions. The steps proposed take less money out of taxpayers’ pockets in the long run by investing smartly in a comprehensive economic development strategy that creates quality jobs.

The report states that:

  • $780 million of public investment has gone into the Centre City area (downtown) over the last 30 years.
  • Almost half of Downtown workers (19,765 people) earn less than a self-sufficiency wage ($11.38/hr).
  • 19% of employees in Downtown do not have health insurance.
  • The majority of jobs in Downtown (61%) require no specialized education or training beyond “on the job training”.
  • Many Downtown workers live in neighboring communities.

The high cost of living in San Diego makes it difficult for low-wage workers to make ends meet. This increases the demand on public services to cover the costs of rent, healthcare, food, and other basic needs.

New development hurts working people and local neighborhoods when quality job creation is not part of redevelopment plans. San Diego’s communities will benefit by being part of the growing trend of creating Community Benefits Agreements with developers.