Think of biopharma jobs, and Massachusetts is among the first places that come to mind. But last year the state’s biopharma workforce rose only a trickle—to 56,462 jobs, up 365 or 0.007% from 2011, according to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio).
Why so flat?
One reason: Massachusetts has yet to see the growth expected from several expansions now under construction. Next year’s numbers are expected to include new jobs following completions of new headquarters of Vertex Pharmaceuticals at Fan Pier on the South Boston waterfront; and new Cambridge, MA, sites for Biogen Idec, Novartis, and Pfizer.
“Some of the expansion we thought we’d see reflected in the 2012 numbers didn’t quite hit,” Peter Abair, MassBio’s director of economic development and global affairs, told GEN.
Another reason is competition from elsewhere—especially New York City, where new facilities like the Alexandria Center™ for Life Science helped R&D jobs grow 41.7% between 2007–2012, versus 13.1% for Massachusetts. The Bay State still has nearly three times as many R&D jobs—3,227 vs. 1,117 for New York, which Abair noted has only recently nurtured institutional spinouts growing into biopharma businesses.
One bright spot for Massachusetts: Most of its largest 30 biopharma employers added jobs last year. Exceptions include AstraZeneca, Eisai, EMD Serono, Lantheus, Parexel International, and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.
Massachusetts also showed nearly 40% biopharma job growth between 2003–2012, 12 times faster than state and national growth for all employment. But most of that growth occurred before the 2007–09 recession. The post-recession job slowdown will be studied in a report due out next year along with the 2014 Snapshot.
“The industry itself is on its two feet again since the recession, so we would want to see that reflected in the employment numbers in ‘13 and ’14,” Abair said.