This week's Chemical and Engineering News is the employment issue; first, let's talk numbers from Sophie Rovner's article (emphases mine):
Chemists have suffered right along with other U.S. workers. Surveys of American Chemical Society members show that unemployment among chemists and chemical engineers reached 3.9% in 2009—considerably higher than the 2.3–2.4% rate seen in 2007–08. “Even though it’s still a much better story than for the U.S. as a whole,” that degree of joblessness is “still quite significant to chemists,” says Elizabeth C. McGaha, manager for the society’s Department of Research & Member Insights, which carries out the surveys.
The situation has been even worse for new graduates than for chemists and chemical engineers as a group, McGaha says. The unemployment rate for new grads, which was 7.2% in 2007, jumped to 9.5% in 2008 and 11.4% in 2009, according to the ACS Survey of New Graduates. The pressure appears to have eased slightly in 2010. Unemployment for new graduates was 10.7%, while that for ACS chemists and chemical engineers as a group was 3.8%. Nevertheless, McGaha says that “we’ll need to see the 2011 data before suggesting any stabilization.”
Her caution stems in part from uncertainty about the reasons for the decline in unemployment. For instance, did the decline result from laid-off chemists finding new jobs as opposed to quitting the job market in favor of additional schooling or retirement? McGaha’s team hopes to tackle these questions in coming years.
The sector that’s taken the hardest hit since the recession began is the pharmaceutical industry, which has cut thousands of positions in the U.S. as a result of the expiration of patent protection on several blockbuster drugs, outsourcing, and other pressures.
However, job cuts in pharma may be declining. Those announced during the first three quarters of 2011 totaled 19,076, according to the outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. For the same period in 2010, 43,334 job cuts were announced, and in the first three quarters of 2009, pharma job cut announcements totaled 58,583.
In the chemical industry, announced jobs cuts stood at 2,447 during the first three quarters of 2011. During the same period in 2010, they reached 1,716, and in the first three quarters of 2009, job cut announcements totaled 54,219.