This blogpost will mostly focus on the data from the 2010 ACS Salary Survey, as the BLS outlook is something that we've covered on this blog (that there's really slow job growth projected for this industry, in comparison to materials science.)
Overall unemployment: as of March 2010, the unemployment rate is 3.8% for ACS members, which is slightly lower from the 2009 number of 3.9%. As Mr. Edwards points out, these are the two highest numbers that ACS has recorded since the beginnings of the survey in 1972.
Human capital destruction: The mean jobless period for ACS members is 11 months, with the median at 9 months. As the unemployed are keenly aware, it is commonly believed that skill set erosion starts in at 3 to 6 months. Mr. Edwards suggests that the relative fall in unemployment is probably due to a combination of people leaving the workforce, combined with chemists taking jobs that are below their skill set ("underemployment").
Experience is winning: One of the key messages of the webinar was that contrary to conventional wisdom, it is younger and less-educated cohorts, not older ones, that are experiencing the most difficulty in finding positions in chemistry. The respective unemployment rates for B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. chemists is 5.1%, 4.8 and 3.2%.
Wow: The final, staggering statistic from the webinar was the unemployment rates for new B.S. chemistry graduates: 9.4% in 2008, 15.9% in 2009. By comparison, the New York Times reported that the BLS unemployment rate for college graduates under 25 was 8% in April 2010.
Even more good news: The final quote from the seminar: "The loss of jobs may be a permanent adjustment without the typical recovery of other recessions."