The MedZilla Report: March 2009 Employment Outlook for Biotech/Pharma/Health

Companies fighting to stay on budget as the first quarter of 2009 came to a close were forced to announce layoffs, and the U.S. economic crisis impacted a field once thought immune to the troubles of the rest of the country as job creation for March contracted by 50 percent.

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Keeping your profile updated on job search sites is more important than ever, given this month's findings

Seattle, WA (Vocus) April 23, 2009

As the first quarter of 2009 came to a close in March, several companies announced layoffs, and while many were small, companies serving the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and health care industries all were affected. Even as 14,000 new health care jobs were created, the average job creation in the first quarter was only 17,000 per month, as opposed to 30,000 per month in 2008.

Generally, cuts in health care are being increased because more and more facilities are losing money. It is the smaller, specialty programs that are cut first -- such as youth residential centers -- but some companies, like Kaiser, have announced sweeping cuts of more than 800 jobs. Kaiser's situation is different in that they are eliminating their in-house information technology departments in favor of a new deal with IBM (Sacramento Business Journal, March 16, 2009). Other health systems, such as New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation, were forced to lay off workers as Medicaid payouts decreased. The month's largest job cuts by far, however, came from biotechnology as Hospira announced a plan to eliminate almost 1,500 jobs over the next two years. Roche is also expected to lose 500 employees as they close their Palo Alto, Calif., research facility, and will likely see more decline the offer to move to other facilities in San Francisco and New Jersey.

Now that more companies are announcing layoffs as they see how far short they have fallen compared to their budgets, employees in danger of being laid off -- either real or perceived -- have increased their job search efforts. Applicants in California and New Jersey looked for jobs 2.4 percent and 2.7 percent more, respectively, in those two states. New York and Massachusetts also saw slight increases -- about one percent apiece. But what was most telling was that applicants searching for jobs in the sales field severely curtailed their activities; 8.1 percent fewer people looked for sales jobs in March than in February. PhRMA's new regulations restricting the amount and types of free gifts pharmaceutical sales representatives can give out have been in effect for a few months now, and as sales specialists see the job getting more difficult, they may be choosing to change career paths.

Though there were a few exceptions, the number of jobs posted on a state-by-state basis remained relatively flat -- which is to say, a one percent swing in either direction. Massachusetts companies posted five percent more jobs in March than in February, while California companies slowed their job postings by 4.6 percent. New York saw a slightly-significant rise in postings, and Texas a slightly-significant drop. But the real change was in what types of jobs were -- or were not -- being posted. Educators were in more demand, as were information technology specialists and operations employees, while postings fell off in areas not normally known for seeing large amounts of shrinkage: clinical research (down five percent) and primary care (down four).

Despite the lack of job postings, companies nationwide ramped up their efforts to find new employees; candidates in Texas in particular were highly sought-after, almost 15 percent more in March than February. Massachusetts candidates were sought almost five percent more, Virginia and Washington almost four percent, and Minnesota 2.3 percent. However, there were significant drops in candidate-seeking activites; Illinois was off 4.1 percent and Florida 3.8 percent. From the types of resumes reviewed by companies looking to set up interviews, it appears that jobs in management, research, marketing, and information technology are available, but instead of posting the open positions, companies are instead looking for qualified applicants who have put themselves out there in hopes of being seen.

"Keeping your profile updated on job search sites is more important than ever, given this month's findings," said Michele Hopps, director of marketing for MedZilla.com, the internet's leading job board for health care, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. "With so many qualified candidates out there, it's a buyer's market, and if you're not constantly polishing your CV, you could be left behind even if you're the best person for the job." Meanwhile, anyone affected by layoffs should not sit idly by; working on a volunteer basis may seem like a waste of time, but it reminds potential employers that there are motivated candidates right under their noses, and it also benefits the candidates by ensuring that they keep their skills sharp.

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 ©2009, 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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