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Wages & Compensation in Life Sciences 2023

BioSpace Salary Report: Life Sciences Salaries Grow at Slower Pace than Previous Years

BioSpace published its 2023 U.S. Life Science Salary Report, an annual deep dive into compensation in the life sciences, including trends, analysis and predictions.

Using BioSpace’s own data, the survey discovered that though the overall economy has constricted, biopharma hasn’t felt the same vice grip on salary growth other industries have. Salaries continue to grow, in a year-over-year comparison, though at a slower rate than in previous years.

“We’re pleased to see salary growth even in an increasingly tough market,” said Josh Goodwin, president and CEO, BioSpace.

“Many industries are feeling the squeeze. Even modest growth must be celebrated as the industry adapts to succeed in tougher times. We applaud life sciences employers for finding ways to prioritize compensation and employee satisfaction to attract top talent.”

Like other industries, biopharma has seen its share of turbulence. In late 2022 into early 2023, layoffs, earnings reports and decreased M&A activity underscored overall market forces. Compared to last year, people require smaller compensation increases when considering changing jobs.

As inflation strains investments, capital acquisition and hiring, high wage growth levels this year are unlikely. Nonetheless, the report highlighted several notable findings:

  • Base salaries increased by 3%

  • 99% of respondents who changed employers reported a salary increase

  • 27% of respondents who changed employers reported a salary increase of more than 25%

  • Bonuses increased by 7% in 2022

Gaps Persist

Even as the respondents reported salary growth overall, several subsets experienced stagnation.

Intersectionality is the way gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and class “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects that influence dynamics like salary, according to the Pew Research Center.

The gender gap widened back to the level BioSpace recorded in 2021, with women earning 87% of what men earn when examining averages for full-time work.

As BioSpace has previously reported, intersectionalities also contribute to gender and racial pay disparities.

The mandates of child-rearing, caretaking and pausing one’s career at a critical time to focus on their families leave some women behind their male counterparts, BioSpace reported in “Women in the Life Sciences,” published in 2022.

This year’s data bears this out:

  • Men were more likely than women to receive merit-based raises

  • Men were more likely than women to receive bonuses and equity

In Sum

The Department of Labor’s Federal Jobs Report released Friday shows that the life sciences are far better off than other economic sectors.

Life sciences held firm, while most other industries suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic that entered the U.S. three years ago, nearly to the day. With the Federal Reserve aggressively raising interest rates to tame inflation, many economists had expected job gains would cool or even turn into losses by now.

“For life sciences, we expect to see employers and life sciences professionals alike continue to thrive,” Goodwin said.


Report: Mass. life sciences sector has lots of jobs, but not enough workers to fill them

Massachusetts is outpacing the nation in life sciences job growth, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation, or MassBioEd.

The state's life sciences sector grew its employment base by 14.6% between 2019 and 2022, compared to just 9.4% nationally, the report found. This growth occurred during a period when the state's overall economy declined by 2.6%, the report noted.

And MassBioEd projects more growth is coming: The report estimates the life sciences will increase the 132,000 jobs it had in 2022 by 32% in 10 years.

However, while jobs are booming in the state's life sciences industry, there may not be enough workers to fill these positions. The sector is projected to have an average of more than 6,600 openings annually in key roles over the next decade, according to the report. And the state's colleges and universities are only producing about half that amount of graduates in life sciences, the report noted.

"While our education institutions are very robust here in Massachusetts, they're just not keeping up with the demand from industry," MassBioEd CEO Sunny Schwartz said. "So we need more production from our higher education institutions, or we need nontraditional paths into the industry." Schwartz said the industry also needs to consider new ways of training and recruiting to reach more workers. As an example, Schwartz cited the apprenticeship program that MassBioEd launched in 2021 that placed talent in 20 companies.

The report calls for greater investment in specialized training programs as well as more targeted outreach to a broader range of potential workers.

"I think there's a perception in the life sciences that everyone has a Ph.D. who works in this industry, and that is simply not true," Schwartz said. She noted that only 19% of industry jobs require a Ph.D., and 10% do not require a bachelor's degree.

"So there's a lot of opportunity in this industry for people at all levels of education," she said.

Though the state remains a hub for highly specialized jobs, such as in biopharmaceuticals, other areas within the industry have experienced rapid growth, prompting a need for workers with varied skillsets. Computing and IT roles have increased by 52% since 2019 to about 11,000 jobs in 2022, according to the report. Additionally, production and manufacturing jobs have grown by about 37% since 2019, after years of job declines in these areas.

The report also addresses diversity within the industry, something its authors say will be crucial as the sector tries to reach more workers to fill its job gaps. Schwartz said the industry has worked to increase the number of women in the field and in leadership roles, but still has more work to do when it comes to hiring more people of color.




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