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Port of San Diego’s direct economic impact estimated to be $5.4 billion

The district’s overall impact across the county is up more than 10 percent since 2011.

SAN DIEGO — More than $100 million in tax revenues and $3.3 billion in labor income were generated by the Unified Port District of San Diego’s economic activities in 2015, according to a report released by port officials in late December. The report also found the port district provided about $5.4 billion in direct economic impact and infused nearly $8.3 billion (more than 10 percent higher than 2011) into San Diego County’s overall economy.

An economic analysis of the port district’s economic output and impact detailed how San Diego’s maritime industry, which includes boating, fishing and shipping, boosts California’s southernmost economy.

The Port of San Diego is home to one in 30 jobs across San Diego County and responsible for about 2.5 percent of the gross regional product, according to “Economic Impacts of the San Diego Unified Port District in 2015.” Economic and Planning Systems Inc. created the economic report for the port district.

Last year’s numbers consistently outpaced the port district’s performance in 2011. Four years ago the port district’s economic impact was $7.5 billion countywide and $3.7 billion locally.

Economic and Planning Systems Inc. measured economic and job activity originating on Port of San Diego property and categorized its study into two groups: tourism and commercial activity as well as industrial and maritime commerce.

San Diego’s tourism and commercial sector proved to be the biggest beneficiary of the port district’s economic impact. About 70 percent of waterfront jobs were in the tourism and commercial sector, while 30 percent of the port district’s direct workers were employed in industrial or maritime occupations.

More than 30,000 jobs generated $2.7 billion in direct economic impact for the tourism and commercial sector in 2015, according to the economic analysis.

The industry and maritime sector also generated $2.7 billion in direct economic impact for the port district in 2015, albeit with almost 13,000 jobs.

In all, the port district employed 43,627 people on the waterfront in 2015, up almost 10 percent from 2013.

“By virtue of its size and responsibility for administering the scenic, strategic, and economically crucial San Diego bayfront, the District plays an important role in the regional economy and its provision of recreational opportunities and environmental stewardship,” the Economic and Planning Systems Inc. report stated. “To balance competing demands for scarce space along the bayfront, the District must allocate its resources among commerce, industry, navigation, fisheries, tourism, environmental needs, and recreational demands, responding to changing requirements on an ongoing basis.”

The port district support jobs in cargo, ship and boat building, vessel repair, cruise travel, commercial seafood, angling and recreational/charter boating (dealers, wholesalers, suppliers, etc.).

Port district tenants were responsible for a lion’s share of the district’s economic activity. The direct economic impact of jobs associated with port district tenants generated about $4.4 billion, about 81 percent of the district’s total output. Port district tenants employed more than 33,000 people (out of 43,627), according to the report.

Marine cargo, cruise terminals, the city’s convention center and public sector jobs rounded out the other contributors to the port district’s direct economic impact.

The port district commissioned Economic and Planning Systems Inc. to conduct a total of seven economic activity reports between 1992 and 2016; previous reports were published in 1992, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2013 and 2014.

The most recent report was published on Dec. 20.

(Parimal M. Rohit photo)

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Economic Impact – Port of San Diego

Direct Economic Impact

2015       $5.4 Billion

2013       $5.1 Billion

2011       $3.7 Billion


Overall Economic Impact*

2015       $8.3 Billion

2013       $7.7 Billion

2011       $7.5 Billion

*- All of San Diego County


Waterfront Jobs

2015       43,627

2013       39,600

2011       28,805


Top Users**

Marine Group Boat Works

Shelter Island Boatyard

Point Loma Sportfishing

Boat dealers

Cruise ships

Cargo terminals

Recreational businesses

** – partial list