Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 4% chemist job growth between now and 2020

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has published its latest projections of job growth for chemists for the next decade recently. Overall job growth for all occupations is expected to increase by 14%; by contrast, chemists will experience 4% job growth over the next 4 years.

I think it's interesting that the change in job growth is different (revised upwards) from 2010, even as the number of chemists has actually gone down (2,100 fewer chemists in 2010 than in 2008 -- totally believeable.) The numbers in the attached Excel spreadsheet are a gold mine of data that I'll be unearthing on a regular basis.

The job growth comments from BLS are worth quoting:
Declines in employment of chemists is [sic] expected at chemical and drug manufacturers. To control costs and minimize risks, many of these companies are expected to partner with research universities and smaller scientific research and development (R&D) and testing services firms to perform work formerly done by in-house chemists. Additionally, companies in these industries are expected to conduct an increasing amount of manufacturing and R&D in other countries, further limiting domestic employment growth.
That the leadership of the American Chemical Society is not directly addressing this issue (i.e. slow job growth, continued shedding of industrially-employed chemists) with its members on a regular basis is a frustrating, disappointing thing. While perhaps overwrought, the concept of "fiddling while Rome burns" comes to mind. 

17 comments:

  1. Not sure who is to blame for this one, but there is subject/verb disagreement in the BLS quotation: "Declines in employment of chemists IS expected...: should be ARE Maybe a [sic] is appropriate?

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  2. Dare I ask it: Do you have an ACS official in mind to cast as "Nero?" And, more saliently, can they play the violin?

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    1. The first ACS official to opine on the STEM worker shortage gets the Nero title.

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    2. I think of Nero as a committee or a group, much like "Management" on Burn Notice.

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    3. Well Rudy Baum is always speaking out and is a passionate spokesman for what he believes is the most important issues of our times.

      Which oddly enough is global warming. I dunno, are the chemists causing that?

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  3. I think I should try to pull this data for some of the other career paths I think about moving into- save myself the years of struggle. Thanks for posting this- even though it is a giant bummer.

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  4. So... they are saying that grad students and postdocs are going to turn into friers for drug companies, with no job prospects after they finish? Yeah, good luck getting your research done at the uni then. Even if you can manage to get a prof to agree to do exactly what you want, and negotiate a good deal from the uni research commercialization company, there are only going to be so many friers willing to do it for you for so little money and no prospects afterwards. Unless you import foreigners who go back to their country later.

    Hopefully the same broken system won't exist in their home countries of course, as the stream of all that Chinese research goodness will dry up soon if so. And this man won't be able to enjoy his 'retirement' in productive happiness:

    http://www.chem.harvard.edu/groups/holm/groupmembers.htm

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  5. Where do BLS data come from?

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    1. Well, Anon, when two economists love each other very much...

      Actually, I believe that the data comes from BLS' regular measurements of the job market. Here is a handy FAQ: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_faq_001.htm#howoften

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    2. No, really, this number, 90,900 where did it come from? From employers reporting to BLS?

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    3. No, I believe it comes from the extrapolations that BLS makes from the Current Population Survey (i.e. the Census Bureau's survey of households.)

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    4. Dude, the BLS data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics! : )

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  6. I can see the C&EN headline now: "Projected chemist job growth percent doubled in the past two years!" Emergency STEM education funding required!

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  7. Heh. Some would argue that I buried the lede.

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  8. The ACS diversity list emailed out a link just this afternoon about a study that women are losing ground in STEM fields which are "fast growing and vital" fields projected to have 17% growth over the next decade. So I wouldn't hold my breath.

    The link they sent out as the topline of the email:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stem-a-fast-growing-and-vital-field-with-a-declining-share-of-women-new-report-finds-2012-03-20

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    Replies
    1. Reminds me of an old headline "Apocalypse is coming, women and minorities to suffer the most."

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