Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chart of the week: chemical employment over the last ten years

Table credit: Chemical and Engineering News
From this week's issue of C&EN comes the employment facts and figures. It is worth pondering that, excepting pharmaceuticals, every single other sector of the industrial chemistry world  has lost workers over the last ten years.

It is interesting to note that with all the sturm und drang of the pharma world (mergers, layoffs and the like), the industry has seen a 0.1% increase in employment over the last 10 years. I would pay serious money to know what a similar chart for pharma research chemists would be like.

Happy Tuesday (sort of.) 


  1. Unstable IsotopeJuly 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Looking at this chart, it looks like pharma is just 5 or 6 years behind the rest of the chemical industry. They were still hiring while others laid off. Food for thought.

  2. Yeah, for most of the sectors, the employment was at a peak in 2000, whereas pharma was still rising.

  3. According to this chart we should start hitting zeroes in about 20-25 years.

  4. The BLS says that chemical employment will grow 2% over the next decade. So by 2020, the chemistry sector will only be as big as it was 20 years before that. So close to 0% growth for that time period. Let's hope the BLS is just really horrible at statistics.

    Can we get a chart for how many chemistry PhDs are on the market by year? At least we can have one chart that shows growth.

  5. About:

    Here's the chart until 1999; believe it or not, the recent decade's production isn't much higher (~2k a year): http://chemjobber.blogspot.com/2010/12/chart-of-day-organic-chemistry-phds.html

  6. CJ: Thanks for the graph, had no idea there was some data like that!

    Assuming that all the Organic chemists from 1960-1999 (~22200?) are still around (not dead) and taking the conservative production of Organic Chemists at 4,000 for 2000-2010, than the total number has grown 18% in a single decade. Remember, that's assuming that no graduates died and everyone is still in the chemical industry.

    However, if we take into account that many people were leaving (death, retirement, etc) the industry every decade, then maybe the relative increase is much smaller. That is a lot more difficult to quantify. But my feeling is that the answer is way below 18%, but still wayyyyyyy too high given -3.6% overall and 0.1% increase for Pharma. :-(

    We haven't even gotten to international production of graduates.

  7. Unstable IsotopeJuly 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Should be a simple graph - the number of US Ph.D. graduates vs. the number of jobs in chemistry. I'm sure we'd see an increasing gap.


    Is there any kind of data showing the change in academic positions during this time period? I would assume it's pretty steady.

  8. UI:

    By "number of jobs in chemistry", do you mean the number of employed chemists or the number of job openings?

    Re academic positions, you know, I've never really looked into the data. I assume that NSF probably has something related to this, but I'm not sure.

    Basically, NSF keeps the number of graduates and BLS estimates the number of working chemists. I don't know who keeps track of the number of chemistry professors -- NSF, maybe?

  9. Unstable IsotopeJuly 5, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    For employed chemists I mean the numbers above.

    I assume you can get the employed in academia off the annual ACS surveys. I know you can get the numbers of new graduates from ACS statistics.

    Just interested in seeing if the gap between "jobs" and new graduates is changing.

  10. "Looking at this chart, it looks like pharma is just 5 or 6 years behind the rest of the chemical industry. They were still hiring while others laid off. Food for thought. "

    This is a very good observation Unstable Isotope. I am a former pharma research chemist. Made the switch into chemistry in another industry after a layoff. Honestly, it is like looking into a crystal ball for the future of the pharma industry... Issues which pharma chemists discuss as being crack pot business trends (jammed down their throats by MBAs)are very common practice in other chemical industries.

  11. Unstable IsotopeJuly 5, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    Heh heh, is pharma doing Six Sigma?

  12. When I was laid off from pharma, my company was starting to hire Six Sigma like crazy! It seemed odd to me... Why do they need to improve product quality when they had a dry pipeline and had laid off scientists who could fill it?

    Found out the big picture later. The same company later bought another company's pipeline and products.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20