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NJ pharma job growth lagging, study says

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New Jersey lags other states in terms of job growth in the pharmaceuticals sector, despite having among the highest number of drug and medical device manufacturers.

A study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found that of the five states with the highest number of life sciences companies – North Carolina, Washington State, Colorado, Indiana and New Jersey – the Garden State was the only one to experience a decline in that industry in 2016, as its total employment in life sciences fell by 25 percent, or 17,400 jobs.

In contrast, North Carolina saw a 46 percent increase (12,900 jobs added) in 2016, followed by Colorado and Washington, which saw increases of 39 and 22 percent, respectively. Pharmaceutical employment in Indiana grew by less than 1 percent.

In the medical devices sector, North Carolina again grew the fastest with a gain of 81 percent, or 3,700 jobs, with Indiana coming in second at 45 percent (5,300 jobs). Colorado grew 31 percent, while Washington gained 8 percent and New Jersey showed no growth.

On a more positive note, New Jersey had the highest average annual wage in the pharmaceutical space at $177,595 in 2016, while the average annual wage in the state was $62,764. ITIF labels the difference between the two as a premium. The Garden State also had the highest annual average salary in the medical device field, at $119,738. In the study, ITIF speculated that New Jersey’s higher-than-average wages might be one of the causes of job losses in the state.

Additionally, New Jersey leads other states by a wide margin in terms of the formation of startup companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device space, with 142 startup pharmaceutical companies and 262 medical device startups in 2016. Indiana led all states in terms of patents for medical devices, but New Jersey still significantly led all states in terms of the number of patents in the pharmaceutical industry.

A copy of the study, “Growing the Future,” can be found here.

Debbie Hart president of BioNJ, acknowledged that there have been job losses in the pharmaceutical industry, but said her group has found the biopharmaceutical industry to still be rapidly growing. 

“Overall, there has been an increase in biotechnology jobs in New Jersey,” Hart said in an interview. “We are bullish on New Jersey and see that there is room for growth, given all of the exciting things that are going on in our business ecosystem, not the least of which is the election of our new governor, Phil Murphy. We think he will clearly be a tremendous sales person for the state and supporter of the industry.”

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio


Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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