WASHINGTON – Job growth in biosciences is defying the slump in employment as a reliance by drugmakers on outside research labs helped support the industry through the past decade.
Biosciences added 96,000 jobs from 2001 through 2010, a jump of 6.4 percent, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and research firm Battelle said in report last week during an industry convention in Boston.
The U.S. economy lost about 3.6 million private-sector jobs in that time, a decline of about 3 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Employment at laboratory companies, such as Princeton, N.J., contract researcher Covance Inc., rose 24 percent in the period and was the only area of biosciences to expand during the 2007-2010 recessionary cycle, climbing 6.1 percent, according to the report.
Labs employed more than 450,000 people in 2010, or almost 3 in 10 U.S. bioscience industry workers.
This reflects the outsourcing of many research and testing services previously done in-house by major biopharmaceutical companies, as well as the rise of molecular diagnostic testing, Battelle and BIO said in the report.
A separate report issued by London-based Ernst & Young last week found biotechnology companies boosted research and development spending in 2011 by 9 percent.
That follows a 2 percent increase in 2010 that was preceded by a 21 percent plummet in 2009.
Jeffrey Spaeder, a cardiologist, is among those who have moved from pharmaceutical companies to contract research labs.
In 2011, he joined closely held Quintiles Transnational Corp., the biggest provider of testing and drug-trial services, as chief medical and scientific officer, after working at Abbott Laboratories and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.
It is a very positive growth environment that probably will continue, Spaeder said in a telephone interview. I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of bright, experienced people at Quintiles, based in Durham, N.C.
Pharma companies have been downsizing multiple parts of their organizations. They are finding CROs are able to provide therapeutic area expertise and clinical development expertise that they previously had in house.
Biosciences industry employment totaled 1.6 million in 2010, spanning 70,000 business establishments, according to the BIO report.
The five areas of the market include labs; makers of lab equipment and medical devices; biological drugs and diagnostic substances; fertilizers and biofuels; and product distributors.
BIO, based in Washington, is the largest lobbying group for the biotechnology industry, with more than 1,100 members worldwide.