California’s life sciences industry group today released a report showing steady year-over-year growth in employment, companies, funding, and pipeline development.

The Golden State’s life sciences sector directly employed 311,226 people last year, according to the California Life Sciences Industry Report 2019, released today by the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) and PwC. That’s up 4%, or 12,517, from the state’s total direct workforce in 2016.

Another 647,000 jobs reflect “indirect” employment—jobs that support and are supported by the sector. When these are included, life sciences employers account for nearly 1 million (958,000) total jobs in the state, the report concluded.

“As the overall economy has grown, California’s life sciences community has more than kept pace,” the report observed.

CLSA also counted 3,418 life sciences companies in the state, up 5% or 169 companies from a year earlier. However, biopharma accounts for nearly 46% (1570) of California’s 2848 life sciences companies, up 117 from 2017. The majority of California’s life sciences companies (1848) consists of device and medical equipment manufacturing concerns, a category that also includes diagnostics and even renewable energy.

The companies counted by CLSA generated a combined $177.7 billion in total revenues in 2017, up 5% from $169 billion a year ago.

Life sciences employers paid employees a total $37.1 billion in salaries and wages last year with the average annual salary at $119,070. Total salaries and wages rose 9.1% from $34 billion in 2016, and the average wage increased 4% from $114,000.

The report also highlighted two longstanding trends: California was tops in the nation in venture capital investment last year at $7.6 billion, 13% or $900 million more than in 2016. The state was also number-one in NIH grants awarded at $3.9 billion, up $100 million from the previous year.

Growing Pipeline

Also noted in the report is the pipeline of 1332 drug candidates under development by the state’s biopharmas, up 58 or 4.6% from 1274 a year earlier. Nearly one-third of IND-filed pipeline therapies were for cancer drugs, the largest disease category numbering 433, followed by 134 treatments for central nervous system conditions, and 123 infectious disease candidates, a category that includes HIV.

From 2017 into this year, the report added, California companies received 28 expedited approvals from the FDA.

“Together, we have built something wonderful in California, something we must preserve and improve. While California’s life sciences sector has done well, we face increasing competition,” CLSA president and CEO Sara Radcliffe, and Peter Claude, partner, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences Advisory, PwC, said in a “Letter to Stakeholders” within the report.

California has more regions than any other state in GEN’s most recent List of “Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters:” San Francisco Bay Area (ranked second), San Diego (fifth), and Los Angeles/Orange County, CA (seventh). The L.A./Orange County region showed the biggest one-year leap among regions, advancing two positions from last year’s cluster list.

However, Boston/Cambridge, MA, enjoyed the distinction of the number-one cluster as ranked by GEN. And in June, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) recommitted his state to helping grow its biopharma industry by reauthorizing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative—though the $623 million in bonds and tax credits authorized over five years is smaller than the $1 billion, decade-long measure enacted in 2007 by then-Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

Radcliffe and Claude added that CLAS “is working with industry, academia and lawmakers to streamline regulations, increase education and research funding, improve the tax climate and deliver other policy changes that will protect health innovation and patient access to care.”