Border Region

Cross-Border Economic and Environmental Metrics

Neutral from
2015 to 2016

How are we doing?

The border region received a neutral rating because it is unsuitable to determine its performance due to the complexity and expansive reach of the region. However, economic data is showing a positive trend with a decrease in unemployment rates on both sides of the border in 2016. Border crossings through San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry increased from 2015 to 2016, with truck and personal vehicle crossings at their highest over the past seven years. Tijuana beach water quality improved in most locations in 2016, except for San Antonio del Mar. See more information.

Unemployment rates in Baja California, Tijuana, California and San Diego all continued to decline in 2016. Unemployment data may differ in collection methods and standardization techniques which may make a direct comparison between US and Mexico unemployment rates unsuitable.

Data Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, 2017; INEGI, Encuesta Nacional de Ocupación y Empleo, Indicadores estratégicos, 2017

Why is it important?

  • Developments in Tijuana and Baja California are crucial components of the San Diego region’s continued economic prosperity and quality of life.
  • Environmental issues do not stop at the border. In February 2017, 143 million gallons of raw sewage spewed into the Tijuana River. While cross-border sewage spills of a few million gallons are common, this was one of the largest events in the past two decades, spreading toxic discharge onto beaches in the San Diego-Tijuana border region.

Northbound border crossings increased from 2015 to 2016 for trucks, personal vehicles and pedestrians. In 2016, truck and personal vehicle crossings were the highest they have been during the past seven years.

Data Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Border Crossing/Entry Data, 2017

Border Beach Water Quality

(select beaches, 2016)

Beach Water Quality
Bacterial Test Pass
Percentage in 2016*

*Bacterial test pass is based on a bacterial standard set by the Mexican government for recreational beaches.

Although many south of the border beaches had relatively few bacteria exceedance advisories in 2016, San Antonio del Mar struggled with water quality throughout the year.

Data Sources: PFEA/Tijuana Waterkeeper, 2017

  Idea for Change

Policymakers and academics on both sides of the border need to work collaboratively to standardize field experiments, reporting protocols and methodologies related to assessing water quality, air quality and other environmental and economic data. Clear and accurate data can help inform decision-makers, policymakers and planners in the region when addressing environmental issues and working to improve quality of life for residents across the border region. 

  Bright Spot

In 2016, the PedWest border crossing facility at San Ysidro opened with 14 new lanes for pedestrians coming into the United States. Some of the benefits of this new point of entry are to better connect the regions, help commuters going to work or school, lessen traffic congestion and pollution and create a more interconnected region. On the U.S. side, PedWest terminates at a transit center where pedestrians and commuters can walk, take taxicabs, buses or private cars and easily connect to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Trolley. Learn more.

  What are we measuring?

We do not determine a yearly trend in this indicator due to the expansive reach of the border region. To determine the performance and complete an assessment, it is necessary to have consistently measured data encompassing all of the complexities of the area. In the future, we hope the border region will have its own Dashboard with numerous indicators. We do track important components of the region, including unemployment rates, border crossings into the U.S. and beach water quality in the Tijuana area. Learn more about the data.