The Employment Outlook Brightens

Readers react to the economic turmoil of the past year and look longingly forward to 2012.
Dec 02, 2011
Volume 35, Issue 12

The economic and financial crisis that thundered through the world economy in 2008 still rumbles on today. The downgrade of the US debt rating in August 2011, along with the economic chaos that has taken over the European Union in recent months, have done little to lend confidence to the bio/pharmaceutical market. When analyzing data from Pharmaceutical Technology's 2011 annual employment survey, readers' outlooks are positive with regard to job security and business growth for 2012. Approximately 64% of respondents feel that their jobs will be secure in 2012, while 82% believe 2012 will bring improved business conditions or, at the very least, not decline.

In last year's survey, everyone was riding the employment roller coaster—11.3% of respondents lost their jobs but salary rises were given to those lucky or smart enough to remain in employment. This year, 7.2% left jobs involuntarily following restructuring, but many other indicators remain relatively unchanged, with 59.4% experiencing a salary increase. The median salary of all respondents rose from $102,500 in 2010 to a median of $103,100 for 2011.

At the end of 2010, the majority of survey respondents thought that business within the bio/pharmaceutical industry would improve in 2011, but given the enormity of global economic worries, it's no surprise that a recovery has been somewhat delayed.

More secure even in troubled times

Figure 1: Respondents indicate to what extent they agree with statements about their current position and company.
Given the tone of mass media this past year, most respondents have probably had cause to consider just how secure they are in their current roles. But the results from the 2011 survey are positive. As noted, 64% of respondents "agree strongly" or "agree somewhat" that they are secure in their current job (see Figure 1). To put this into context, insecurity ran high at 53% in 2010—US respondents were above the average at 55.3%—so there is a marked improvement. It is interesting then that, when asked to compare job security to last year, 40.9% claim they feel less secure today than in 2010 (men somewhat less secure at 44.8% than women at 33.3%). Nevertheless, 33.6% of you would consider moving to another position based solely on improved job security, with another 52.9% considering it an important criterion, making it clear that security is still an issue of concern.

Emerging economies
Breaking the data down by organization type, contract manufacturers and service providers offer slightly more security (68.9% agreed their job was secure) than generic or traditional bio/pharmaceutical companies (64% and 63.8%, respectively) in a pattern that reflects last year's survey, although groupings are closer for 2011. The pattern is somewhat reversed when respondents discuss whether they were likely to leave their job involuntarily in the coming year; 28% of respondents working for generic-drug firms agreed, as compared with 21.5% in traditional pharma companies and 25% in contract organizations. Geographically, things get a little more interesting; Europe (East and West) trails in job security with 58.7% of respondents feeling safe, US and Canada match the total figure at 64.5%, but for the rest of the world (of which 54.5% is made up of India) job security sits at a very high 84% (see sidebar, "Emerging economies," for more details about India's bio/pharmaceutical employment sector).

About the survey respondents
Only 21.6% of all respondents agreed that leaving their job involuntarily was likely, but what about moving on to new pastures voluntarily? A hefty 66.5% of respondents "disagree strongly" or "disagree somewhat" that they will leave voluntarily (33.5% were in agreement), so many are either satisfied at work, or mindful that the job market has seen better days. Once again, location plays an important role in this opinion. In North America, the figures follow the general trend (because of the survey weighting), with 30.5% of respondents agreeing that they are likely to leave their job voluntarily. In Europe however, the figure ramps up to 38%, and for the rest of the world, almost half "agree strongly" or "agree somewhat" with the statement. Given that these figures are at odds with job security, there must be significantly more powerful drivers for job satisfaction.

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