Biotechnology

Workers & Wages

This section discusses the current status and historical trends in labor market conditions related to establishments, employment and wages within the North Carolina and U.S. biotechnology industry. This analysis primarily uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) based on our definition of the biotechnology industry. Links are provided to the underlying data in the form of interactive tables, charts and maps throughout this section.

Overview

The biotechnology industry has grown steadily in the last two decades with North Carolina becoming an important part of the economy. In 1992, the industry employed 33,514 workers and has nearly doubled to 62,348 in 2012. In 2012, North Carolina was the 9th largest employer, representing 4% of U.S. employment.

Activities along the chain include agriculture feedstock and chemicals; drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; and research, testing and labs. North Carolina’s main segment in comparison to the U.S. states is in the drugs and pharmaceuticals segment. In 2012, North Carolina was the 5th largest state in this segment with 5.9% of U.S. employment and 3.1% of establishments. North Carolina’s main U.S. competitors in this segment are California, New Jersey, New York and Illinois. Within North Carolina, the largest concentration of establishments and employees in drugs and pharmaceuticals is in Wake and Mecklenburg counties.

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North Carolina
Present (2012)

Overall

  • In North Carolina there were 2,125 establishments and 62,348 workers employed across the agriculture feedstock and chemicals; drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; and research testing and labs segments of the biotechnology value chain (T2a; T3a).
  • The overall average annual wage is $40,454. The highest wages are in the artificial fibers and filaments industry ($55,060) and the lowest are in apparel manufacturing ($25,805) (T4a; C4a).
  • Geographically, the industry is concentrated in two main clusters. One cluster includes Guilford, Randolph, Alamance and surrounding counties and the other area includes Catawba to Gaston and Mecklenburg counties (M2a; M3a).

Main Segment

  • The main segment in North Carolina in terms of employment is drugs and pharmaceuticals (NAICS 3254) which employed 26,977 workers in 459 establishments in 2012 (T2a; T3a).
  • Average annual wages in drugs and pharmaceuticals segment were $94,579 (T4a; C4a).
  • The largest concentration of establishments and employees in drugs and pharmaceuticals is in Wake and Mecklenburg counties (M2a; M3a).

Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)

Overall

  • Employment has increased steadily since 1992, with total employment across all categories increasing 86% since 1992 (T3a; C3a). Employment has increased the most in the research testing and labs segment, increasing 161%. The number of establishments has also increased dramatically over the 1992 - 2012 timeframe (T2a; C2a).
  • Wages have increased over the last two decades in all segments by an average of 123% (T4a; C4a).
  • Despite the growth of employment, there have been layoffs and closures, concentrated in Durham and Wake counties as well as Wilson County (M8a).
  • The largest number of layoffs and closings occurred between 2002 and 2003 and 2010 and 201 (C8a).

Main Segment

  • The drugs and pharmaceuticals segment expanded over the last two decades from 16,473 workers in 1992 to nearly 27,000 in 2012 (T3a; C3a).

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United States
Present (2012)
  • In 2012, the biotechnology industries employed over 1.6 million (T3b) in over 55,140 establishments (T2b).
  • The largest of the four categories, in terms of employment, is the research, testing and labs sector, which employed roughly 743,079 workers in 2012 (T3b). This represented 46% of total U.S. biotechnology-related employment (C3b).
  • Overall the drugs and pharmaceuticals segment has the highest average salaries ($105,804 in 2012) and the lowest salaries are in agricultural feedstock and chemicals segment at around $71,500 (C4b).
Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)
  • The number of establishments in the U.S. biotechnology value chain increased by 33.3% between 2002 and 2012 (T2b) and employment rose by 9.1% during the same time frame (T3b). In 1992, the biotechnology industries employed over 1.2 million people, however in 2012 the number grew to over 1.6 million (of which 46% were in research, testing and labs) (C2b; C3b).
  • Wages have steadily increased in all four sectors, with an average annual pay increase of 117% over the last two decades and 41% between 2002 and 2012 (T4b).

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Top U.S. States
Present (2012)

Overall

  • The top U.S. employers in the biotechnology industries are California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas (T3c). Regarding the number of establishments, the leaders are California, Florida, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina and New Jersey (T2c). The largest segment in all states in terms of employment is research, testing and labs.
  • California makes up nearly one-fifth of U.S. employment in research, testing, and labs and medical devices (T3c).
  • Agriculture feedstock and chemicals is the smallest segment in terms of U.S. employment, and is more concentrated in Illinois (14.2%) and Iowa (11.6%) (T3c).

Main NC Segment

  • In the drugs and pharmaceuticals segment, the top employers are California (14.5%), New Jersey (8.9%), New York (7.5%), Illinois (6%) and North Carolina (5.9%) (T3c).

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NC in the U.S. Economy
Present (2012)
  • North Carolina ranks sixth in the U.S. in terms of the overall number of establishments with 4% of U.S. establishments across all biotechnology-related segments (T2c) and is the 9th largest employer, representing 4% of U.S. employment (T3c).
  • North Carolina is the 5th largest state in the drugs and pharmaceuticals segment with 5.9% of U.S. employment and 3.1% of establishments (T3c; T2c).
Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)
  • Between 1992 and 2012, North Carolina increased its share of U.S. establishments from 2.0% to 3.9%, moving from the nation’s 17th largest in terms of establishments to 6th (T2c).
  • In the drugs and pharmaceuticals segment, North Carolina rose from the 16th largest state (2.5%) in terms of establishments to 7th (3.1%) from 1992 to 2012 (T2c). North Carolina’s share of U.S. employment also grew in this segment, raising it from the 7th largest employer in the U.S. (4.8%) to the 5th (5.9%) (T3c).

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