So this is the last ten years or so of Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for job growth for chemist jobs (or #chemjobs, for the Twitter folks) drawn from these tables. Here's a Google documents version of the above table.
What conclusions can I draw?
- The data is quite clear -- chemistry has not been a "higher than average" job growth field since 2001.
- For the foreseeable future, there are about 3000 job openings a year for all chemists (not chemistry professors or alternative careers or whatever), but chemists as defined by the Occupational Outlook Handbook. (I assume these are mostly bench-level positions.)
- By contrast, in 2008, there were estimated to be 10,500 bachelor's graduates in chemistry. As you can see from the chart, not all of them end up working as (or working towards being) chemists. (see page 10)
- If you were an entering graduate student in 2001 and you left graduate school in 2006 (or took a postdoc) and left in 2008, your projected future was a lot different than when you started.