While biopharma job growth has not completely rebounded from the 2007–09 recession, and many of the world’s economies continue to struggle, several measures over the past two years suggest that employment will pick up the pace in 2013, a new survey concludes.

Of the 5,836 participants completing the 2012 BioSpace Annual Demographic Survey between October and December 2012, the number of users actively seeking new jobs shrank to 46.8% last year from 54.9% in 2010. Nonmanagement positions grew to 38.4% in 2012 from about 36.7% two years earlier—faster growth than seen in management positions, which rose from 19% to 20.2%.

“As companies continue to look for ways to save and cut costs they are less likely to add management positions just based on the salary variance of these levels,” Chanille Hewett, BioSpace product manager, told GEN. “There tends to be smaller headcount in the C-suite as salary rates increase. It’s also the ‘triangle model’ here—you don’t need as many managers as nonmanagers in a company.”

Survey results were published recently in the BioSpace Annual Report: Life Sciences Employment Outlook, whose data did not show which nonmanagement positions had the greatest growth. However, it did show that the industry segment showing the most growth between 2010 and last year was biotech, whose share of life-sci jobs grew from 21% to 25.5%. Biotech still lagged slightly behind the 27.1% share held by pharma last year. Back in 2010, biotech accounted for only 21% of jobs, compared with 28% for pharma.

The survey reflected big pharma’s continued contraction as companies respond to patent-cliff loss of protection by shrinking sales offices and shifting R&D to partners, often smaller biotechs. Also shrinking over the past two years was diagnostics employment, which dipped from 4.9% to 4.4% of life-sci jobs. The category includes medical device jobs, whose creation was hindered, according to the survey, by the 2.3% medical device tax created as part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Three other segments showed job gains between 2010 and 2012: Service and supplier employers rose a percentage point and a half, to 6.7%. Nonprofits rose by 1.3% to 3%. And research institutes added jobs, too, inching up 1.1% to 9%. Those numbers, added to the biotech growth, accounts for the study’s conclusion that biopharma unemployment is steadily decreasing—to 15.2% last year from 18.6% in 2010.

Positions seeing the most growth in employer demand over the past two years were clinical research associate, clinical laboratory scientist, director of regulatory affairs, and regulatory affairs—general, research assistant, and biostatistician.

Slowest growth was seen in manufacturing and marketing positions, as well as for project managers, senior scientists, and principal scientists. Since most jobs posted on BioSpace are in the U.S., the survey results don’t address how much the declines may reflect shifts of those jobs to Asia and other emerging markets.

Most Openings for Scientists

Scientist remained the position with the most openings by profession in 2012, followed by research associate, sales representatives, associate scientist, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and manufacturing.

Other findings:

  • The expertise and experience of BioSpace users shifted since 2010, toward administration (5% to 6.6% in 2012) and sales (5.3% to 6.2%), and away from process, manufacturing, and production (7.9% to 6.6% in 2012), and regulatory affairs (4.3% to 2.7%).
  • California and Massachusetts finished first and second, respectively, as top locations for life sciences professionals. Third-highest was New Jersey/New York, as both states house several pharma giants, while the Empire State ranked top-three on R&D spending and placed second in conducting the most clinical trials.

Biospace said it collected within its database job posting data from about 32,000 biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device job openings placed by 1,400 life sciences and biotech employers. Employers ranged from privately funded to public enterprise companies. Salary data was collected from 228,000 user profiles in the BioSpace Resume Database.

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