In SLO County, few other occupations pay as much as Diablo Canyon jobs

Local public and private officials know that San Luis Obispo County has a tough job ahead to replace head-of-household jobs after Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s proposed closure in 2025. The plant employs about 1,500 people with an average annual salary of $157,000, according to 2014 figures.

A Tribune review of 2016 wage data provided by the state Employment Development Department underscores that concern. The data, which includes more than 350 occupations in San Luis Obispo County, shows that the only other jobs locally that pay a mean (average) annual wage of at least $150,000 are internists, dentists, family and general practitioners, psychiatrists, physicians and surgeons, chief executives and managers.

Michael Manchak, president and CEO of the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County, said his group hopes to hire a team of consultants to analyze the potential impacts of the closure and identify local opportunities to replace that income. He said the group hopes the process will start in the second quarter of 2017 and expects it to take the better part of a year.

» Economic Dashboard: Click here for a closer look at SLO County’s economy

The analysis would dovetail with a bill authored by state Sen. Bill Monning and former Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian to study the economic impact of closing Diablo Canyon. The EVC study would be geared toward strategic planning.

The Economic Vitality Corp. is working closely with the county and cities on this effort. It’s too early to determine who the exact funding partners will be; the EVC is working with the Economic Development Administration to try to obtain some federal money. Manchak said the group also hopes to get money from the community.

PG&E has offered $10 million for economic development efforts in the county and cities, which could include incentives, loans and grants for businesses, as well as help with infrastructure.

“We’re not necessarily trying to figure out how do you replace exact income or salary, as opposed to creating more jobs,” said Manchak, adding that it’s a matter of growing the economy as a whole. “It provides opportunity for us to diversify our economy.”

The EVC supports and fosters resources and policies that accompany a healthy economy.


» Economic Dashboard: Click here for a closer look at SLO County’s economy

The organization plans to continue discussions with other communities and consultants in communities that have dealt with the loss of a major employer, and it isn’t limiting itself to those that had nuclear power plants.

Manchak noted that head-of-household jobs will be a priority, acknowledging the high cost of living in San Luis Obispo County.

“Growth for the sake of growth isn’t what people want,” he said. “It has to be mindful, respectful of the resources we have and appropriate to our area.”

He said the organization hopes to have community conversations to gauge what people want the future of the local economy to look like.

The Economic Vitality Corp. has identified six industry clusters in the county in order to help those businesses grow and create more head-of-household jobs. The analysis it hopes to undertake next year would include identifying potential synergies between these clusters — as well as other sectors in the local economy — that could lead to new opportunities and economic growth.

“This really is an amazing opportunity in history to help form our local economy and change it in ways that perhaps aren’t so reliant upon one particular company and one particular facility,” Manchak said.

Submit news and notes items for Biz Buzz. Email:; on Twitter @SLOBizBuzz; phone: 781-7902; fax: 781-7905; mail: Biz Buzz, The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112.

A closer look

Here’s a look at some jobs in San Luis Obispo County that have a mean annual wage above $120,000, according to data provided by the Employment Development Department.

Wage data estimates are updated to the first quarter of 2016, and the occupational employment estimates are for May 2015.

Occupational Title, May 2015 Employment Estimates, Mean Annual Wage

  • Internists, General: 50, $262,114
  • Dentists, General: An estimate of employment could not be provided, $233,922
  • Family and General Practitioners: 140, $215,580
  • Psychiatrists: An estimate of employment could not be provided, $191,232
  • Physicians and Surgeons, All Other: 50, $184,607
  • Chief Executives: 220, $157,401
  • Managers, All Other: 110, $155,887
  • Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates: 50, $144,941
  • Pharmacists: 190, $137,870
  • Sales Engineers: 30, $131,402
  • Producers and Directors: An estimate of employment could not be provided, $131,326
  • First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives: 50, $130,832
  • Marketing Managers: 90, $130,139
  • Lawyers: 180, $129,165
  • Financial Analysts: 80, $127,745
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers: 100, $124,930
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: 30, $124,214
Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune