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June 7, 2016

Report Sees Job Growth, R&D Challenges in U.S. Bioscience Industry

  • The U.S. bioscience industry grew to nearly 1.66 million jobs in 2014—up 2.2% from 2012, and nearly 10% since 2001, according to a report released today at the 2016 Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention.

    The segment consisting of research, testing, and medical laboratories showed the highest job growth of five segments studied in "The Value of Bioscience Innovation in Growing Jobs and Improving Quality of Life 2016," with employment rising 3.4% from 2012 and 32.4% from 2001, to 483,412 jobs in 2014.

    The research–testing–medical labs segment was also the largest segment by job count. It narrowly edged bioscience-related distribution, whose 452,325 jobs in 2014 marked a 2.3% gain from 2012, and an 8.8% jump from 2001, the second largest leap during that period.

    However, the second-largest job growth during 2012–2014 was shown by the drugs and pharmaceuticals job segment, which grew to 293,353 jobs in 2014, reflecting 5 years of job gains. Still, that figure represents a 4.2% slide from 2001.

    Lagging in jobs creation within bioscience, according to the report, was two segments—agricultural feedstock and chemicals (up 1.5% during 2012–2014, to 77,545 jobs), and medical devices and equipment (down 0.1% during the same period, but still sizeable at 349,045 jobs).

    On a brighter note, the report highlighted an average annual wage for bioscience workers of $94,543 in 2014—some $43,000 above the overall U.S. private sector wage of $51,148.

    “This report highlights the long-term expansion of our industry and the significant impact of the high-paying jobs that come with developing the innovative technologies that are helping to heal, fuel, and feed the world. These biotech jobs are a critical economic component to states and local communities across the nation,” BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said in a statement.

    BIO released the report, which it prepared with TEConomy Partners, whose principals include the authors of the Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Development reports prepared in previous years.

    As with those previous studies, this year’s report included state-by-state analyses of bioscience activity. From 2012 through 2014, 35 states saw net job growth in the biosciences, with California recording the largest number of jobs (more than 242,000), followed by New Jersey (nearly 88,000), then Florida (nearly 83,000), then Massachusetts and Texas (both more than 81,000).

    The state results echo and differ in parts from GEN’s annual lists that rank the top 10 U.S. biopharma regional clusters—the most recent such list was published last month. GEN’s lists do not include medical device or agricultural jobs, accounting for some of the differences.

    The BIO/TEConomy report uses economic multipliers in calculating that each bioscience industry job generates an additional 4.5 jobs—increasing the impact of the industry’s 1.66 million U.S. bioscience jobs by an additional 7.53 million jobs throughout the rest of the nation’s economy.

    The report painted a mixed picture of the U.S. bioscience industry, spotlighting two key challenges during the study period. One was a 3% decline in NIH basic research funding from 2012 to 2015, reflecting years of wrangling by Congress that included a federal government shutdown in 2013. While lawmakers in December approved a $2 billion jump in NIH funding for the current fiscal year, agreement has yet to occur on a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts October 1—and is unlikely to happen soon with the nation facing presidential and Congressional elections.

    The other challenge highlighted by the report was a slowdown in the pace of R&D spending by colleges and universities. From 2012 to 2014, bioscience-related academic R&D increased by only 2% to reach $38.9 billion in 2014, compared with annual increases averaging 7% during the preceding 10-year period.

    However, the report also spotlighted two strengths of the U.S. bioscience industry. One was a resurgence in venture capital investment since the last report came out in 2014, with VC investment climbing to $13.9 billion in 2014 and $14.9 billion last year, the highest level during the 2001–2015 period. From 2012 to 2015, bioscience VC grew by 48%—less than half of the 97% jump seen in the rest of the market for VC.

    Another bright spot for U.S. bioscience was patent activity, with 101,026 bioscience-related patents granted with at least one U.S. inventor from 2012 to 2015.

    “While the bioscience industry has continued to grow, our analysis shows it is not immune to market realties,” Greenwood added.

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