What do our Indicators Signal?

The Top 10 Live Well San Diego Indicators define what it means to live well in San Diego. Measured across the lifespan among all residents, the Live Well San Diego Indicators capture the collective impact of programs, services, and interventions provided by government and community partners striving to improve quality of life so that all San Diego County residents can be healthy, safe, and thriving.

We are making positive strides in 7 out of 10 of the Top 10 Live Well San Diego Indicators.

Unemployment Rate

It should come as no surprise that the Unemployment Rate has increased significantly in 2020 as a result of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. This indicator measures the percent of people in the eligible workforce who are unemployed. In 2020, this measure was 15.5% and now measures 7.3% in 2021. This is better than the state (8.0%), but in comparison to the nation, we still have room for improvement (6.2%). According to the San Diego Workforce Partnership, “San Diego’s labor market sent mixed signals in June (2021) as the economy started to fully reopen only to find businesses desperate to find workers. The region could regain its leadership role relative to California and the nation if more people accept the job opportunities that companies are now offering.” 

To assist in this recovery, an emphasis should be placed on creating new pathways to work, especially for women, youth, and people of color. Partnerships between employers and community organizations are needed to prepare low-income youth and young adults for careers in high-demand fields through mentorship, on-the-job training, and career support. 

Air Quality

Our Physical Environment Indicator measures the percent of days per year that air quality was rated unhealthy for sensitive populations or worse. It is currently measured as 13.4%. We are hovering above the state’s measurement (10.7%), but in comparison to the nation’s air quality measurement (1.5%), we are well above. Air quality data is heavily affected by weather, wildfires, emissions, and the unique topography of San Diego County which makes our county and our state unique in comparison to the national data. Climate change is a factor in bringing more intense heat waves to our county that produce extreme temperatures and intensifies wildfires that can exacerbate air pollution and decrease air quality.

To improve air quality, individuals can work to reduce their carbon footprint by driving less, switching to electric vehicles, and buying local to reduce vehicle emissions. Organizations and jurisdictions can contribute by supporting policies and infrastructure that adapt to and reduce the effects of climate change. The Air Pollution Control District ensures commercial, industrial, transportation, and agricultural businesses are permitted and operate in compliance with air pollution control laws. They are leading a statewide effort to require community air monitoring, community emission reduction plans, and incentive funding to deploy the cleanest technologies in the most impacted areas. 


Our Community Involvement/Volunteer indicator measures the percent of the population who volunteers. Trends at the county level have shown a decline from 2009 (29.3%) to 2017 (25.5%). Unfortunately, the last available year for federal source data for San Diego County was 2017, so with no recent data to compare, this remains an indicator to watch. Trends at the state level show the measurement holding steady at 24.9% (2019), while nationally the measurement is trending upward at 30% (2019).  To improve volunteerism, an emphasis should be placed on further understanding, engaging, and activating residents from all ages, backgrounds, and interests to collaborate on finding solutions to the most pressing issues in our communities.

New Indicators

The Live Well San Diego vision continues to take direction from our region’s stakeholders to help develop strategies, goals, and measurements that best reflect the needs of our communities. As we grow, we will be looking to develop additional indicators to help us better understand how our region is doing with regard to addressing homelessness, health equity, and racial disparities.