Bioscience industry adds jobs over last decade despite nation’s economic setbacks

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 09:28 AM

The Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Industry Development report signals significant job growth in the bioscience sector over the past decade, indicating the importance of the biosciences as an economic driver for the nation.

The fifth biennial report, which analyzed the industry's impact on the U.S. economy on a state-by-state basis, revealed that during the 2001 to 2010 period, the U.S. bioscience industry increased jobs by 6.4%, despite an average of -2.9% in both the overall U.S. total private sector industry employment and other leading knowledge-based industries. The majority of the jobs added were in research, testing and laboratories.

"Given the continuing concerns about job creation in the U.S., we are pleased to report an increase of more than 96,000 jobs in the bioscience sector since 2001, even after accounting for the impacts of the recent severe recession," said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). "The Battelle/BIO report highlights the long term expansion of our industry and the high-paying salaries of our researchers and scientists that are developing innovations and life-saving medicines."

The U.S. bioscience industry weathered the recession much better than the overall economy and other leading knowledge-based industries. While national private sector employment fell by 6.9% from the outset of the recession in 2007 through the first year of the recovery in 2010, bioscience industry employment fell a mere 1.4%. The strength of the bioscience industry is seen when compared to other leading knowledge-based industries, such as information technology services, aerospace, computer equipment and finance and insurance, all of which recorded net job losses during the same period.

Furthermore, the bioscience sector continues to be a source of high-wage jobs. The average bioscience job paid $82,697 in 2010, $36,000 more than the average private sector job.

"The bioscience industry is still resilient, even through these difficult economic times," said Mitch Horowitz, vice president and managing director of Battelle's technology partnership practice. "Looking to the future, the bioscience industry stands out amongst other markets and serves human health, agriculture, biofuels and other industrial applications."

While the latest report details positive job growth in the industry, the broader economic and regulatory environment for the biotechnology industry remains challenging. According to the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), U.S. venture capital funding for biotech was down 18% comparing Q1 2011 to Q1 2012. The Initial Public Offering (IPO) window remains tough and selective, with companies not able to raise the amount for which they initially file.

Complicating matters, the regulatory review processes are not keeping up with rapidly advancing science and are making it a more difficult environment to develop new treatments and products. A 2011 NCVA survey shows investors pulling out of certain areas of biotech, primarily due to the tough regulatory climate.

"Biotech holds great promise to help jump-start our nation's economy and continue to add high-wage jobs," noted Greenwood. "In order to help drive economic growth, and continue to help feed, fuel and heal the world, we need public policies that encourage investments in biotech innovation and a more transparent, science-based regulatory environment."

The Battelle/BIO report includes individual profiles for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and can be found on the BIO website.

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