Chemistry jobs outlook dim for fourth year in row

For the fourth consecutive year, the employment picture for chemists is not bright, albeit considerably better than for the nation as a whole, according to the Nov. 1 Employment Outlook section in Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, the world?s largest scientific society.

From American Chemical Society:
Chemistry jobs outlook dim for fourth year in row, C&EN reports

For the fourth consecutive year, the employment picture for chemists is not bright, albeit considerably better than for the nation as a whole, according to the Nov. 1 Employment Outlook section in Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, the world?s largest scientific society.

The magazine, in preparing the special section, looked at the annual ACS salary survey, job placement efforts, employer demand for adding employees, and unemployment trends, and concluded that all indicators point to continuing difficulties for chemists looking for fulltime jobs.

For example, C&EN reports a record-high unemployment rate of 3.6 percent among chemists, up slightly from 3.5 percent last year, according to the 2004 ACS salary and employment survey. This compares favorably to a higher unemployment rate of 5.4 percent for all parts of the U.S. economy.

As recently as 2001, chemists were essentially fully employed, with only 1.5 percent out of work. ACS surveys also show that a declining percentage of new chemistry graduates are finding fulltime employment. For Ph.D. graduates, this decline has been from 45 percent of the 2001 class to 37 percent of the class of 2003.

The survey found that fulltime salaries for 2003 Ph.D. graduates had increased to $68,500, up $500 from the previous year?s class, but down from $70,000 for the 2001 class. While the rate of raises has been declining slightly in recent years, the ACS survey reports that increases still remain higher than inflation.

With regard to demand for chemists among employers, C&EN reports that 2003 was disappointing. The problem: while industrial employers increased recruitment programs, they did not offer many jobs. The number of job openings available at ACS national meeting employment centers remains lower than in recent years, according to the magazine.

The number of potential positions offered by employers at these meeting employment centers has declined from a high of 1,628 at the 1999 ACS meeting in Anaheim to 271 at the 2004 Anaheim meeting. Most recently, at the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia last August, employers sought to fill 303 positions.

Overall, industrial hiring is stagnant and recruiters generally predict few new positions for the coming year. A key reason is that although pharmaceutical companies have been fairly resilient despite a soft economy, the traditional chemical sector has had its problems, C&EN says.

Despite the gloomy industrial picture, a number of academic employers told the news magazine they were cautiously optimistic about next year?s prospects for chemists, biochemists and chemical engineers. Some predict a stronger academic hiring year for 2005 with the number of faculty openings returning to normal levels as universities make up for the reduced hiring pace in 2002 and 2003.

To access PDF files of the C&EN employment outlook section, go to: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/8244/8244employment.html

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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