Headed Up or Down? Pharma's Position in the Current Economy

Results from our annual employment survey.
Dec 02, 2009
Volume 33, Issue 12

Just as indicators are sending mixed messages about the health of the US economy—GDP is up, while job growth is sluggish—the Pharmaceutical Technology 2009 Employment Survey delivers contradictory messages about the pharmaceutical industry. Salaries are up over last year, job security is way down, and almost two-thirds of the 1500-plus respondents have been through some kind of corporate reorganization during the past year. Nevertheless, job satisfaction remains high with employees in the pharmaceutical industry indicating 3 to 1 that they feel valued by their employers, and more than 60% of respondents say it is unlikely or very unlikely that they'll change jobs this year.


Type of employer. Private industry remains the primary employer to 86% of respondents working for private companies. Academic institutions came in a far-distant second with 4%. The number of respondents who are self-employed, or work for government or nonprofit institutions came in even lower still. Among those who work in private industry, more than a quarter work for companies that employ over 25,000 people, 17% work for companies with 100-500 people, and 11% work for companies with fewer than 50 employees. As a result, most of these responses reflect life at privately held corporations of varying sizes.

Table 1:Given the Opportunity, I Would Leave My Job
Job function. At 17%, quality control and assurance professionals are the best represented job function of survey respondents, as has been the case in years past. Eleven percent are professionals in pharmaceutical development, retaining last year s second-place spot. Rising to third from last year s fourth place position, were production research and development (R&D) professionals, accounting for 8.8% of respondents, and relinquishing its third-place position, were professionals in pharmaceutical analytical development, who now occupy fourth place at 8.3%.

Table II: Have the following regulatory guidelines and initiatives changed the manner in which you perform your daily activities at your present job?
On average, workers report they were contracted to work for 27.8 hours, down from last year s average of 32 hours. Actual hours worked also declined from last year s 40 hours to 31 hours.

Job security

Table III: Please rate the importance of the following types of knowledge in fulfilling the daily activities of your position
This year, job security is the big story, not unexpectedly in this time of extreme economic turbulence. An all-time low of 51% of respondents reported feeling secure in their jobs, down from last year s low of 55%.

Table IV: Please rate the importance of the following skills in fulfilling the daily activities of your position
In contrast, 80% of respondents felt secure about their jobs in 2001. But if workers are feeling insecure, it's with good reason. Sixty-four percent of respondents report their company has gone through some kind of reorganization—a downsizing, restructuring, merger, or acquisition—this year. About 53% of those experienced some kind of job change as a result, primarily a change in function. About 7.4% of respondents left their jobs involuntarily, and about 4% said they left voluntarily.

Government workers feel the greatest job security, with 92.3% of those feeling sure that their jobs will continue to exist. Among academics, 69.6% feel secure, followed by workers in private industry with 49.5% reporting feeling secure. Least secure are workers in nonprofit organizations; 42.3% of these feel secure in their jobs. Interestingly, 60% of workers at nonprofit organizations say they would leave their jobs given the opportunity.

My Job Is Secure
PharmTech was interested in knowing how security tracked with job function and found that 75% of educators feel secure in their jobs, which put them at the top of the list. Next most secure are professionals involved in finished dosage-form manufacturing, with 65% reporting feeling secure, followed by about 63% in product management who feel secure. With about 35% feeling secure, workers engaged in pharmaceutical analytical development feel least secure, followed by those working in drug metabolism at 40%.

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