The US Job Market: Too Much Technology or Not Enough?

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

Depending upon your political views, there are two prevailing economic theories on the existing US job market. From a Trumpian standpoint, technology is the bane of the existence of the American manufacturing sector whereas, from a liberal perspective, technological innovation in the US is not growing as much as it needs to sustain the US economy.  Both perspectives are explored in an article by Neil Irwin in the NY TImes Sunday Business section.

On one hand, many Trumpians believe that the US economy has become too volatile and uncertain. According to Mr. Irwin

The economy has become too volatile and uncertain. Perhaps the dissatisfaction is driven by globalization, automation and the decline of employers’ implicit promises to offer workers jobs through thick and thin. These factors have made it harder for people to get good-paying jobs and to hold onto them for decades. High levels of inequality mean many of the benefits of growth don’t accrue for people at the middle and bottom of the pay scale.

All of this has hammered people without an advanced education and left them feeling unmoored and without opportunity, even if by narrow measurements jobs are plentiful and compensation is rising.….In short, one could summarize this set of complaints as the economy’s having become too dynamic for its own good.

On the other hand, the counter argument goes like this:

 A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a research outfit funded largely by technology executives, suggests that the real problem isn’t too much dynamism but too little.

They cite federal data showing that in 1977, more than 16 percent of firms in the United States were less than a year old, a figure that had fallen to half that by 2014. New businesses have similarly done less to power new jobs than they once did, while the biggest, oldest firms account for a rising share of economic activity. Market concentration increased for two-thirds of industries between 1997 and 2012, the report found. That coincided with a steady rise in corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product, and in a decline in the share going to workers’ wages.

The job market has become less fluid. The proportion of workers who change jobs in a given year has fallen from 12 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2015….

Most startlingly, the creation of new companies has been concentrated in a small number of metropolitan areas: Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. From 2010 to 2014, those five regions created as many net new businesses as the rest of the country combined. If you didn’t live in them, or were unwilling to move to them, you were out of luck.

Put simply, the US economy and job market is not dynamic enough.

Irwin offers two different remedies to address either idea:

If you look at globalization as the main problem, you might see some Trumpian renegotiation of trade deals and arm-twisting to get companies to keep jobs at home as being in order. But you could also argue for a more generous social safety net and government funding for retraining.

If you believe that increased market concentration is a central problem, you might consider tougher antitrust enforcement, a favorite of liberals, but also explore conservative arguments that complex regulation creates an unfair advantage for big companies that can employ scores of lawyers.

Finally, Irwin concludes:

Of course, the too much versus too little dynamism diagnoses aren’t mutually exclusive; there are probably elements of truth in both. Maybe the economy really isn’t working for many Americans because globalization, automation and changing labor practices have thrown them to the wolves. But maybe there are also deep-seated structural shifts preventing communities and individuals from tapping the great opportunities the modern economy offers.

The point here is, that the American economy/ job market change rapidly and jobseekers must learn to quickly adapt to remain employed.  Further, contrary to Trump’s simple minded rhetoric, there is no quick fix for the US job market. To that point, saving a few corporate jobs here and there and threatening companies who move manufacturing outside of the US may sound good, but in the end, it is no substitute to a coherent well-thought-out job strategy to help displaced workers get the jobs that they so desperately want and need.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

Blizzards and the American Work Ethic

Posted in Career Advice

It’s been a while since my last blog post but the hysteria over the would-be blizzard of the century got me thinking again.  The Great Recession that began in 2008 (which appears to be over) has forced the American workforce to work harder (without commensurate increases in salary and vacation time) than ever before. Consequently, those who were lucky enough to retain their jobs are frequently stressed, fatigued and pushed to the breaking point. Therefore, it is not surprising (to me at least) for any excuse –like an exaggerated, overhyped blizzard–to not go to work!  Put simply, looking for cataclysmic climatic events to get the vacation time that employees so desperately need is not in the best interest of the American workforce!  Perhaps employers ought to allow employees to take more time off and guarantee them paid sick time rather than rely on blizzards to give their workers a much needed break.

The US economy seems to be in good shape as compared with the rest of the world.  Although American productivity is at a historical high, I do not think US workers will be able to maintain it into perpetuity. That said, the US greatest advantage over other countries in the world is ingenuity and innovation.  And, to innovate, people need time to think and identify the next “big thing”   And, while a snow day here or there may be restful, the time off is certainly not sufficient for workers to garner enough time to think about the next world-changing technology or innovation.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Digging Out (if you got any snow)


Some Troubling Unemployment Statistics

Posted in BioEducation

By now, most people have heard that the average national unemployment rate has fallen from close to 9.0% to 8.6%—the lowest in almost three years. While this may be cause for celebration, a closer inspection of other statistical findings is necessary to get a real picture of American unemployment (notwithstanding the fact that unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanics are in double digits).

The source of these revealing stats was an article by Phyllis Korkki published in the New York Times this past New Year’s Day entitled “The Year of the Multitaskers’ Revenge” According to Ms. Korkki, while the overall unemployment rate is 8.6%, the jobless rate for persons who earned a college degree is 4.4% while the rate for those with a high school diploma is 8.8%. The unemployment rate for those individuals who did not graduate from high school is a staggering 13.2%. However, a more troubling statistic offered by Ms. Korkki is that less than 30% of United States population of 25 years or older has a bachelors or higher degree. To make matters worse, 30% of jobless Americans have been unemployed for a year or more.

Ms. Korrki contends that large groups of American will continue to be unemployed or underemployed unless more training and educational opportunities become available to the public. Further she asserts that if the long term unemployed do not get some government help than this groups risks falling so far behind that it will never be able to catch up.

Most analysts predict that unemployment rates in the US will remain high for five years or more. Like Korkki, I believe that the only way to reduce unemployment among non-college graduates is to fund programs that are designed to retrain workers for jobs in emerging technologies. Further, bringing manufacturing jobs from overseas back to the US will also help!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!


China By The Numbers

Posted in BioEducation

Much has been written about the emerging markets in China. While there are likely thousands of business article and white papers on China’s economic expansion, I was unable to find a single source that provided me with some vital economic and social statistics to explain China’s rise as an economic power; that is until I received OnWisconsin, a quarterly publication from my alma mater the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An article entitled “Delicate Balance” by Jenny Price ’96 provided me with a plethora of data that cogently and expertly explained the Chinese ascendancy as an economic power. Not surprisingly, the data offered by Price was compared with economic, social and business data from the US. Some of the information was startling to say the least (bold italics); so here goes:

Urban Population

United States 82%

China 47%

Median Age

United States 36.9 years

China 35.5

Total Fertility Rate

United States 2.06 children born per woman

China 1.54 children born per woman

Infant Mortality Rate (death per 1,000 live births)

United States 6.06

China 16.06

Net Migration Rate

United States 4.18 migrants/1,000 population

China -0.33 migrants/1000 population

Largest City

United States New York/Newark 19.3 million

Shanghai 16.6 million


United States $1.903 trillion/$1.27 trillion

China $1.307 trillion/$1.506 trillion

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by Sector


United States 1.2%

China 9.6%


United States 22.2%

China 46.8%


United States 76.7%

China 43.6%

External Debt

United States $13.98 trillion

China $406.6 billion

Public Debt

United States 58.9% of GDP

China 17.5 % of GDP

Budget Revenues/Expenditures

United States $2.092 trillion/$3.397 trillion

China $1.149 trillion/$1.27 trillion

Population (2011 estimate)

United States 313,232,044

China 1,336,718,015

Literacy (ages 15 or older or can read and write)

United States 99%

China, 91.6%

Life Expectancy at Birth

United States 78.37 years

China 74.68 years

After reviewing the data, it became much more apparent to me as to why so many companies, most notably pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, are investing heavily in the Chinese market. Financial analysts predict that the Chinese pharmaceutical market will surpass the US (currently the world’s largest) by the end of the decade. That said, I think it may be time for the American public to learn more about China. Learning as much as possible about the competition is essential if you want to stay in the game.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!


Some Good News: Allergan Will Open A R&D Facility in New Jersey

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The New Jersey Governors Office announced today that the healthcare company Allergan, Inc, known mainly for its eye care products, plans on opening an R&D facility in NJ that will inject $12 million in private investment into the state’s beleaguered economy and add several hundred jobs over the next three to five years. Allergan currently employs about 10,000 people worldwide. Allergan chose New Jersey after it received a $17 million grant from the state to build the facility.  At present its size and location is yet to be determined.

While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (possibly a vice president candidate) is taking as much credit as possible for Allergan’s decision to open an R&D facility and create jobs, it may be too little to late for New Jersey—home to most of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies—which has lost tens of thousands of life sciences jobs because of mergers, reorganizations and layoffs.

Nice try Chris but you will have to do better than several hundred new jobs before you can claim that you are solely responsible for New Jersey’s economic recovery. I hope he is selected as a Vice Presidential candidate; then New Jersey will have a chance to right itself after the damage that Christie caused in his first two years as governor.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!


Some Sobering Statistics About Today's Job Market

Posted in Career Advice

I mistakenly received the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) rather than the NY Times today and while I think that the WSJ is a great example of unabashedly biased journalism, there was an article in the publication about today’s job market that contained some interesting statistics.

The article entitled “Gloom Widespread As College Grads Face New Math” offered the following:

  • Unemployment among college graduates is 4.2% vs. 9.7% for high school grads
  • Eighty percent of recently-polled white male college grads believe the economy is heading in the wrong direction
  • Wages for employees with four-year college degrees fell 8.6% between 2000 and 2010
  • The unemployment rate for recent college graduates is 10.7% as compared with an overall unemployment rate of approximately 9.1%
  • More than 14% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 (ca. 5.9 million) are living with their parent and nearly 25% of them have college degrees

These are pretty sobering facts about the job market in the one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Is it any wonder why the Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining traction among American college age youths?   As recommended by the article’s author it may be time for Americans to follow the advice of the actor Peter Finch (Howard Beale) in the satirical 1976 movie Network

"I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs… And go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out and yell, ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!"

If you truly feel like doing this maybe you ought to find your way down to the Occupy Wall Street protest!!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


Employment Update: Some Biomanufacturers and Biotech Companies are Expanding!

Posted in BioBusiness

While big pharma companies continue to shed jobs, there are some indications that the biotechnology industry is beginning to pick up some steam. For example, Boehringer Ingelheim (both a drug development and biomanufacturing company) is planning a $383 million expansion of its facilities in Ridgefield, CT. Likewise, Cary, NC-based Biologics a biotech cancer treatment company expects to almost double it staff from 85 to about 150 employees by the end of 2012. Finally, Gilead Sciences is undertaking a massive expansion of its Foster City corporate headquarters and expects to increase its workforce there from 1,700 to as many as 3,400 workers.

Although these expansions are only a few in number, they may be a harbinger of things to come in the US life sciences industry. One can only hope!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


MedImmune to Stimulate Maryland Economy By Building A New Biomanufacturing Facility

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Unlike many of its big pharma competitors which are shuttering US manufacturing facilities, MedImmune, the biologics division of London-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, Friday, opened a second bioproduction site in Frederick, MD.

The site which will employ 250 or more workers was constructed to manufacture MedImmune’s products including Synagis, a monoclonal antibody-based treatment against respiratory syncytial virus infections in high risk children.

The acquisition of MedImmune by AstraZeneca three years ago signaled the company’s commitment to increasing it biologics offerings in its historically-traditional small molecule drug pipeline. While the reasons for the company’s decision to build a second plant in Frederick aren’t entirely clear, it is great news for Maryland’s expanding commitment to biotechnology. There are approximately 350 biotechnology companies doing business in the state.

The addition of over 250 biotechnology and manufacturing jobs is certain to stimulate the Maryland economy; something that other big pharma companies have been reluctant to do. Investing in biomanufacturing is something that can help the US reinvigorate its moribund manufacturing sector. And, whether you believe it or not, the US is still second-to-none when it comes to manufacturing biologics and other biotechnology products.

Hat tip to MedImmune for the bold move!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!! (try Maryland)


Tracking Pharma Job Cuts

Posted in BioJobBuzz

There are rumors that companies are hiring again and that pharmaceutical jobs may begin to make a comeback over the next six months to a year. This  may be a real possibility based on a new report released yesterday the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc.

According to the report , 51,034 pharmaceutical employees lost their jobs by the end of May 2009. In contrast, by the end of May this year, only 34,157 pharma employees received pink slips. This represents a 33% reduction in the number of people being layed off as compared with the same time period last year. 

These data can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. First, fewer pharmaceutical employees are getting layed off which means that the economy may be getting better and the job market may be improving. Second, pharma companies can no longer continue to layoff employees at 2009 rates without impacting their with day-to-day operations.

Personally, as a half-empty kind of guy, I think the later hypothesis is more likely! Only time will tell whether or not the economy has truly turned a corner and when we can expect pharma companies to begin hiring en masse again.

Hat tip to Ed at Pharmalot.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting???


Takeda Pharmaceuticals to Cut Almost 1,600 US Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Japanese drug maker Takeda Pharmaceuticals announced today that it will slash almost 1,600 jobs or 28 per cent of its 5000 person US workforce. Most of the cuts will take place at the company’s North American headquarters (1400) in Deerfield, Illinois; the remainder (ca. 170) will occur at Takeda Global Research and Development Center in Lake Forest. These cuts represent a 20 per cent reduction in R&D employees at the site.

The layoffs, which are part of a restructuring of Takeda’s North American operations, are directly related to declining sales and the coming generic competition to its top-selling diabetes drug Actos. In addition to being Takeda’s biggest revenue producer, Actos is the nation’s top-selling brand name diabetes drug and was the 8th-best selling brand in 2009, generating $3.4 billion in U.S. sales, according to the most recent information available from market.

Despite rumors of job creation in other sectors of the US economy, pharmaceutical companies continue to shed jobs.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!