Bioscience Jobs: A Bright Spot in the Economy

by: The Burrill Report

The U.S. bioscience industry added 19,000 jobs in 2008, a 1.4 percent increase to bring the total to 1.42 million, a relative bright spot at a time when the private sector shed 0.7 percent of jobs and had entered into the first year of a deep and painful recession, according to a report from the nonprofit independent research and development firm Battelle and the Biotechnology Industry Association. What's more, The Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Initiatives 2010 shows that publicly traded bioscience related companies on the whole generated positive net growth through 2009.

“Not every biotech company made it through the storm. Fifty publicly traded companies went bankrupt for lack of access to capital. But there is much good news,” says Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO. “Biotech stocks outperformed virtually every other index in the first quarter of this year. The markets have come back but Biotech has come back faster and stronger.”

The report attributed the strength in biosciences employment to growth in research, testing and medical laboratories. The subsector added more than 176,000 jobs between 2001 and 2008, accounting for 9 out of every 10 new bioscience jobs created during this time period.

States view bioscience jobs as attractive in part because they tend to be high wage jobs. The average bioscience job paid $77,595 in 2008, $32,000 more than the average private sector job.

“States and regions are targeting the bioscience sector because it is a source of high-wage, high-skill jobs,” says Mitchell Horowitz, vice president of Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice. “But policymakers also realize that biosciences development is not simply about generating economic returns. The great promise of biosciences is its ability to address global problems, from human health to food generation and security to environmental sustainability and clean energy. Bioscience development pays huge social and quality of life dividends for the U.S. and the world.”