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Mar 14, 2014

JobWatch: Bay Area's Unlikely Challenger

CT-NJ-NY-PA edges longtime leader in 2013 job postings.

JobWatch: Bay Area's Unlikely Challenger

In this regular feature, GEN keeps track of the biotech job market. This month’s JobWatch focuses on how the Connecticut/New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania region is up and coming in terms of jobs. [© Maksym Yemelyanov - Fotolia.com]

  • A pair of recently released reports offered some familiar and surprising insights on where biotech jobs are most likely to pop up nationwide.

    The San Francisco Bay Area had a sizeable share of biopharma jobs posted last year on BioSpace.com, reflecting the region’s perennial status as a top-tier cluster, BioSpace.com reported in its 2013 Biotech Bay Annual Report: Hiring & Salary Trends in the Life Sciences, released March 4. The Bay Area accounted for 19.4% of the 11,790 jobs posted on the biotech job website in 2013, or 2,287 jobs.

    But the region that traditionally finishes first in regional rankings, most recently last Monday by GEN, was edged out in job postings last year by the 19.5% share (2,299 jobs) of a four-state combination that BioSpace calls “Pharm Country,” consisting of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

    To be fair, most rankings are based on jobs and other factors; GEN combined employment with NIH and venture capital funding, availability of lab space, and patents awarded since 1976. But number of jobs is a significant factor for regional clusters, and the Pharm Country states racked up the biggest year-to-year increase in postings—29.5%, compared with an unspecified decrease for the Bay Area, according to BioSpace’s nationally focused 2013 Annual Report: Hiring & Salary Trends in the Life Sciences,” released in January.

    The Bay Area is still number-one, however, in responses to job postings, with an average of 40 per job, up 5% from 2012. Most-posted positions by employers were lab assistant (156), research associate (132), associate scientist (116), research assistant/ coordinator (113), chemical engineer (104), and biologist (101).

    The job categories are in synch with the jobs being sought by prospective employees. Research Associates of all levels topped the list of in-demand positions, accounting for 13.9% of postings (1,639) in 2013. Next highest were Scientist I–III positions at 11.2%, followed by engineering (7%) and QA/QC Associate/Scientist (6.9%).

    The same four job categories were also in greatest demand by biopharma employers nationwide, albeit in a different order: Scientist I–III roles were most in demand, followed by Research Associate, QA/QC Associate/ Scientist, and engineering.

    “We’ve seen an increase in both the number of professionals utilizing the site as well as an increase in the number of job opportunities posted,” Emily Chereck, product manager, BioSpace, told GEN. “This is positive news for professionals and life sciences employers alike as it points to growing opportunities as well as more qualified life sciences employees searching for careers within the industry.”

  • Pursuit of Quality

    Both the Bay Area and national reports saw more job seekers typing “quality” among their job search keywords last year compared with 2012. San Francisco area seekers brought quality from sixth to third on the list of most frequently typed words; nationally, the word zoomed from seventh to fourth.

    “Pharmaceutical companies are facing increasing scrutiny with their compliance measures, thus increasing the demand for quality assurance professionals,” Chereck said. “As the FDA continues to approve more drugs, the demand for quality assurance professionals will continue to grow.”

    Employees working for Bay Area biotech and pharma companies made more than most of their industry counterparts across the country, earning average annual salaries of $66,137 last year—5.4% above the $62,737 national average reported by BioSpace users.

    If that average sounds rather low, there’s a good reason: The salary data included the pay of part-time employees and interns as well as full-time professionals. The low end of the pay scale is all but weeded out, however, when salaries are compared by education.

    Interestingly, Ph.D.s and other doctorates earn less on average ($78,155.74) than MBAs, who were the only education subcategory to crack six figures, but barely, at $100,886.08. That likely reflects the sky-high pay of CEOs and top executives, not all of whom have biopharma or medical degrees. Fourteen of the 15 CEOs with the highest total compensation in 2012 made $10 million or more, according to GEN’s most recent CEO pay list.

  • JOBCETERA: Bayer, Clinipace, Jazz Pharma, Novartis

    • Bayer HealthCare said Tuesday it will create 500 jobs by 2020 at German sites in Leverkusen and Wuppertal, through a €500 million ($697.4 million) increase in manufacturing capacity for two recombinant factor VIII hemophilia products now in Phase III trials.
    • Clinipace says no layoffs are planned following its acquisition, announced Tuesday, of the 120-employee CRO Choice Pharma for an undisclosed price. The combined CRO will have 640 staffers.
    • Jazz Pharmaceuticals has started construction on a new, up-to-$68 million manufacturing and development facility in Monksland, County Roscommon, Ireland, about 75 miles east of its Dublin headquarters. The new plant creates 160 construction jobs and will generate 55 permanent jobs when completed in 2016.
    • Novartis has disclosed plans for facility closings and layoffs totaling some 3,000 employees worldwide since November, the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported February 28.  The company has vowed to control costs, and has justified the job cuts (closer to 4,000, according to another Swiss newspaper) as needed to ensure funding for product launches and other growth activities.


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