The MedZilla Report: July 2008 Employment Outlook for Biotech/Pharma/Health

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The shrinking number of layoffs in pharmaceuticals coupled with promising increases in job postings and searches has at least one firm hopeful that the downward swing in pharmaceutical employment could be about to change direction.

Last month had the smallest number of layoffs in biotech and pharmaceuticals that I've seen in quite some time

What seemed to be an anomaly in the month of June -- job cuts shrinking in the pharmaceutical field -- may in fact be a positive sign that the industry is ready to turn around, as there were even fewer layoffs in pharmaceuticals in July.

The big names in pharmaceuticals, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Schering-Plough still reduced their employment numbers in July, though no company announcing layoffs in July said they planned to let go of more than 500 employees. This is in sharp contrast to previous months, in which companies announced job eliminations as a matter of course. Many companies that announced layoffs in the past cited difficulties in the regulatory process, and one firm -- Introgen Therapeutics -- also said they would release about 20 employees (28 percent of their workforce) so they could focus on regulatory issues with their new cancer treatment. Introgen explained that the job cuts came mostly in positions dealing with the regulatory and drug submission process, and the individuals doing those jobs had completed their tasks.

MedZilla.com, the leading employment and career website for biotech, pharmaceuticals, health care, science and medical device, also reported a gain of 33,000 healthcare jobs in July, despite several health systems continuing to trim jobs in specific areas in an effort to save money. Of those 33,000 jobs added, 21,000 were in ambulatory health care and 10,000 in hospitals, so those who might be concerned by layoff announcements can breathe easily; the jobs are there. In fact, some hospital systems supposedly riddled with layoffs are actually releasing fewer than ten individuals -- for example, Mike Swick, president of the Lima Memorial Health System in Lima, OH, said in the Lima News that "if you look at hospitals, it's about the same thing. Reimbursement rates are low and […] volumes are flat at best." Other hospital systems in places like New York and California have reported the same concerns.

Interestingly, all three of those states reporting difficulties also saw job availability growth in July; California had the highest growth at half a percent. No state showed a large shift in either growth or shrinkage of availability in July. Massachusetts companies posted the most jobs last month, jumping 2.6 percent, and California also saw an increase of one percent. Most of the new jobs posted in July were for primary care professionals, though educators and business development positions were posted also. And, following a trend noted in June's MedZilla employment report, there was a surge in sales positions -- almost 3.5 percent -- which could indicate that pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are getting ready to start selling new products and need to bolster their staffs.

Companies actively searching for new employees were mostly looking for surgical staff, laboratory technicians, and technology and marketing personnel. Industry writers also made it onto the searched-for list in July, with a 0.7-percent increase to applicants sought. That number, combined with increases in searches for sales, marketing, quality control, and business development employees, bolsters the trend noted previously. Search targets increased in several states, including Texas (3.4), North Dakota (3.1), four states up about two percent, and four up about one percent. In fact, only Illinois showed a significant drop in target searches, shrinking their investigation into new prospects by five percent from July.

The prospects of those looking for employment in the health care industry remain good, especially in the ambulatory and hospital areas. However, a positive trend is starting to emerge in the pharmaceutical industry, which is good news for a group of employment seekers that, for months, had to deal with negative reports. "Last month had the smallest number of layoffs in biotech and pharmaceuticals that I've seen in quite some time," said Michele Hopps, MedZilla's director of marketing. "The numbers for June and July have been promising, the time to reach for that next great job is around the corner."

About MedZilla.com:
Established in mid-1994, MedZilla is the original web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. The MedZilla jobs database contains about 7,500 open positions. The resume database currently contains over 285,000 resumes with 16,800 less than three months old. These resources have been characterized as the largest, most comprehensive databases of their kind on the web in the industries served.

Medzilla® is a Registered Trademark owned by Medzilla Inc. Copyright ©2008, MedZilla, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this text in its entirety, and if electronically, with a link to the URL http://www.medzilla.com. For permission to quote from or reproduce any portion of this message, please contact Michele Hopps, Director of Marketing and Development, MedZilla, Inc. Email: mgroutage(at)medzilla.com.

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