The Employment Outlook Brightens

Readers react to the economic turmoil of the past year and look longingly forward to 2012.
Dec 01, 2011
Volume 24, Issue 12

The economic and financial crisis that thundered through the world economy in 2008 still rumbles on today. The downgrade of the US debt rating in August 2011, along with the economic chaos that has taken over the European Union in recent months, have done little to lend confidence to the bio/pharmaceutical market. When analyzing data from our 2011 annual employment survey, readers' outlooks are positive with regard to job security and business growth for 2012. Approximately 64% of respondents feel that their jobs will be secure in 2012, while 81% believe 2012 will bring improved business conditions or, at the very least, not decline.

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In last year's survey, everyone was riding the employment roller coaster—11.3% of respondents lost their jobs but salary rises were given to those lucky or smart enough to remain in employment. This year, many indicators remain relatively unchanged, with 16.2% leaving jobs involuntarily following restructuring but with 58.6% experiencing a salary increase. The median salary of workers in biopharmaceuticals, at $104,600, compares favorably to the rest of the industry, at $103,100.

At the end of 2010, the majority of survey respondents thought that business within the bio/pharmaceutical industry would improve in 2011, but given the enormity of global economic worries, it's no surprise that a speedy recovery has been somewhat delayed.


Figure 1: Respondents indicate to what extent they agree with statements about their current position and company. (ALL FIGURES ARE COURTESY OF THE AUTHORS)
Given the tone of mass media this past year, most respondents have probably had cause to consider just how secure they are in their current roles. But the results from the 2011 survey are positive. As noted, 84% of respondents "agree strongly" or "agree somewhat" that they are secure in their current job (see Figure 1). This is slightly improved over from last year's results, where 70.8% of respondents felt "secure," "very secure," or "extremely secure." It is interesting then that, when asked to compare job security this year with last year, 37.8% claim they feel less secure today than in 2010 (men somewhat less secure at 41.2% than women at 31.9%). Nevertheless, 32.1% of respondents would consider moving to another position based solely on improved job security, with another 53.2% considering it an important criterion, making it clear that security is still an issue of concern.

Breaking the data down by the size of the organization, those working in large companies (i.e., companies with more than 10,000 employeees worldwide) are sitting tight: 45.2% say they feel no more or less secure than last year, and 18.3% feel more secure. At small companies with less than 500 employees, anxiety runs higher, with 47.5% saying they feel less secure than last year, but a higher percentage, 30%, saying they feel more secure. The pattern is somewhat reversed when respondents discuss whether they were likely to leave their job involuntarily in the coming year; 10% of respondents working for small companies agreed, as compared with 22% in large companies.

Only 18.8% of all respondents agreed that leaving their job involuntarily was likely, but what about moving on to new pastures voluntarily? A strong 64% of respondents disagree strongly or disagree somewhat that they will leave voluntarily (34.7% were in agreement), so many are either satisfied at work, or mindful that the job market has seen better days. Once again, the size of the company plays an important role in this decision. While 25.6% of respondents from large companies agreed strongly or agreed somewhat that they would leave voluntarily in the coming year, more than half (52.5%) of respondents from small companies thought that they might voluntarily change jobs in the coming year.

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