PROFESSIONAL & MEMBER RELATIONS
...The Professional Advancement Subcommittee provided a presentation on employment trends in the domestic chemical workforce, including the latest ACS data on unemployment, salaries, and trends in certain positions and sectors. A study to better understand job loss in chemistry is currently being scoped. The committee also received updates from the Leadership Advisory Board on leadership courses and the Leadership Institute and on the status of the ACS Entrepreneurship Initiative... -- Peter K. Dorhout, Chair
ECONOMIC & PROFESSIONAL AFFAIRS
The unemployment rate for ACS chemists continues to rise, even as the U.S. unemployment rate has started to decline.
As you may have read in the March 26, 2012, edition of C&EN, the unemployment rate for ACS chemists as of March 1, 2011, was 4.6%. This is by far the highest rate since ACS started tracking unemployment in 1972. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an even higher value of 6.1% for the overall 2011 average unemployment rate for U.S. chemists and materials scientists. The Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs (CEPA) is understandably distressed, as I am sure all of you are.
Historically, employment recovery in the chemical sciences lags recovery in overall employment by one or more years, so it is not unexpected to see our unemployment rate continue to climb when the U.S. rate starts to decline. However, CEPA continues to hear about experienced chemists settling for lower paying positions to make ends meet; new graduates having trouble finding their first position; and postdoctoral positions disappearing. (emphasis CJ's)
In response to this news, CEPA included questions about underemployment in the 2012 Comprehensive Salary Survey, which is currently in the field. Preliminary results will be reported at the fall ACS national meeting in Philadelphia.
-- Lisa M. Balbes, ChairI will be interested to see what numbers about underemployment come from the 2012 Salary Survey.