Monday, July 2, 2012

C&EN: 2011 chemical employment mixed

Credit: C&EN
In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, the Business Department looks at the chemical industry's employment figures in their annual Facts and Figures issue. As you might guess, it's a pretty muddled picture:
In 2011, employment in the U.S. chemical industry increased by a slim 0.2% to 788,000, according to the Department of Labor. This move into positive territory, though slight, contrasts with a 2.1% decrease in the workforce in 2010. But even if the U.S. economy came roaring back to life, it would be difficult to counteract a decadelong erosion of the chemical workforce, which has been eaten away at a rate of almost 2% per year. 
Although hiring was incrementally positive for the U.S. chemical industry as a whole, readers of C&EN will not be surprised to learn that the pharmaceutical industry shed 4,000 workers in 2011 after losing 7,000 jobs in 2010. Consolidation and budget cutting continue to affect the industry as the lingering effects of acquisitions, such as Merck & Co.’s 2009 purchase of Schering-Plough, shake out. Subsequent deals, including Sanofi’s purchase of the biotech drug firm Genzyme, will likely take a toll on pharmaceutical employment.
I think it's fascinating that pharmaceutical employment peaked in 2007; sometimes I wonder if pharmaceutical chemist employment peaked in 2003 or 2004, but no one is ever going to release those numbers. It's also interesting to note that, for the decade, the US pharmaceutical industry was the one bright spot for the 2001-2011 decade, only losing 0.4% of positions, as opposed to the -1.9% for the entire chemical manufacturing sector.

8 comments:

  1. Yawn. More ACS "numbers". Yawn.

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    1. Not for nothing, but those are from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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    2. I though BLS assumes/predicts/guesses/estimates that there's like only 90,000 chemists?

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    3. Yes. This is chemical manufacturing industry employment, which counts the secretary, the chemical operator and the chemist as all as being employed by the chemical industry.

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    4. More like secretary, guard, dishwasher, salesperson, sysadmin, plumber, driver, manager, and chemical operator.

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  2. I think 2007 was also the year I wrote an email to Derek Lowe and asked him for advice on how to transition to Pharma research from my field. The advice was pretty good actually... but thank god I dodged that bullet in retrospect.

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    1. You wrote Derek Lowe for career advice? I thought I was the only guy who did that! ;-)

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    2. Welcome to the club!

      His answer was pretty long too, considering I was only in the middle of my grad studies. He was working at Bayer at the time I'm pretty sure. I don't think he has as much time to write these long email responses to every graduate student now though (I'm assuming he has a lot more fans today).

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