Riding the Employment Roller Coaster

2010 came with pay raises for those still employed and anxiety for all. This article contains bonus online material.
Dec 02, 2010
Volume 34, Issue 12

A couple of years ago as the US slid into economic recession, many of us looked forward to 2010 as the year when we could hope for business to turn around. Surely, by 2010 companies would regain their footing, and the employment situation would return to something that felt like prerecession conditions. So has it? Well, it depends in part on how well you weathered the storm and where in the world you live.

Figure 1: Survey respondents answer how they feel about their job.
Many people have lost their jobs—11.3% of respondents, to be exact—but those that remain employed saw significant salary increases this year. In fact, the overall average salary among respondents climbed to $102,468.79, up from last year's average of $94,079. Nevertheless, more people feel insecure in their jobs now—53% of all respondents—than in any survey we've previously conducted. Moreover, their work day has become longer, they are taking on more responsibilities and performing them with fewer resources, and so their stresses mount. Surprisingly, many respondents seem optimistic about the future—56% expect business to improve in the coming year, and 53% report that their companies plan to expand. More important, 71% say their companies will not be downsizing anymore. So, perhaps we were just a tad premature in our expectation that 2010 would be the year of recovery. As we enter what we hope will truly be a year of economic recovery and growth, we present a snapshot of the year that was in employment.


Figure 2: Survey respondents address whether they intend to leave their jobs.
As in years past, the majority of respondents—80.2%—work in a company that manufactures pharmaceuticals; 45% (of all respondents) work for a traditional bio/pharmaceutical company; 14.5% for a contract service provider or manufacturer; 11% for a generic-drug manufacturer; and 9.7% for a biotechnology company. Only 2.4% work for an academic institution, down from 4% last year. Another 2.6% work for the government, 2.8% are self-employed, 1.9% work for a nonprofit organization, and 10% identify their organization as "other." At 67%, most of the respondents came from the United States (including Puerto Rico), another 20% came from Western Europe, 2.8% are from Eastern Europe, 3.2% are from Canada, and 1.9% are from India. The remainder are from South and Central America and East Asia.

Figure 3: Sources of job satisfaction (multiple responses were allowed).
As in previous surveys, the quality control and assurance (QA/QC) professionals constitute the largest number of respondents—19% (up from last year's 17%). Interestingly, women account for about 52% of these (36.8% of all women report their function as QA/QC). Coming in second at 8.6% of total respondents were engineers and engineering managers, but here the demographics skewed in favor of men (10% of men, and 2.6% of women respondents performed this function). The same is true of the 7.9% in production management (10.4% of men, but only 1.7% of women); 7.2% are in process development (9.7% of men, but only .0.9% of women); and the 4.1% in corporate management (5.5% of male respondents, but only 0.9% of female respondents). Formulators and production researchers were somewhat more evenly represented by the sexes: 5.9% of total respondents are in formulation (6.5% of men, and 5.1% of women); and 5.2% are in production research and development (4.9% of men, and 5.1% of women).

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