Is the number of paid work hours “per working age adult” in the San Diego region going up or down?

InsightsCategory: BusinessIs the number of paid work hours “per working age adult” in the San Diego region going up or down?
Rob Gordonb asked 2 years ago

I am interested in the independent workforce (aka gig economy workers) and have not been able to find an answer to what would seem like a basic question: is the number of workhours per working age adult in San Diego county going up or down?

We are actually below the “theoretical zero” unemployment rate – which was previously thought to be around four percent. Nowadays a “job” can be just about anything though and in my opinion and become a near useless measure. What if the unemployment rate is going down, but the number of paid work hours per adult is also going down? It would seem to me that would mean “we have a situation on our hands” – and if that is the case, we should at least know about it and understand it.

I have asked a bunch of economic developent agencies in town and even a few local labor economists – and none of them know, even though I think they should.

Do you?

1 Answers
eric Staff answered 2 years ago

Unfortunately, I can’t think of a simple, easy to use source of this information, but it may be estimable with effort and creativity. My first thought would be to look at the American Time Use Survey, which has very detailed information about a the work hours for a representative sample of US adults. However, the ATUS does not have a large enough sample for geographic specificity — it only survey’s 60K people per month. So, to get estimates for San Diego, you’d probably have to extract demographic rates from the whole dataset, and re-apply those rates to San DIego county, which is a lot of work.

OTOH, if you just want to know if the number is going up or down, that sounds like you just need the metropolitan unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate. Here is the BLS table for 2018 and 2019, but you’d probably want to get a few more years to extablish a trend.