Updated Mar. 1, 2017 at 7:58 a.m.

Report: NC's life science sector drives double-digit job growth

Published: 2017-02-28 16:35:00
Updated: 2017-03-01 07:58:48


New data shows that North Carolina's life science ecosystem continues to flourish with companies across the state increasing employment by 11 percent since 2010. But even more impressive is the industry's impact on related employment with jobs linked to life science surging by 15 percent.

After a dip in 2014, related jobs surged by 31,000 in 2016.

Overall economic impact grew by some 34 percent over the past eight years to more than $86 billion last year.

More than 650 life science companies are located in the state, and the N.C. Biotech Center notes on its website that employees are among the state's best paid at an average salary of $78,000.

TEConomy Partners and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center collaborated on the report, a preliminary summary of which was disclosed at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development's Life Science event on Tuesday in Raleigh. The report is produced every two years. (The Biotech Center and NCBIO also help put on the annual event, which draws researchers, scientists, investors and entrepreneurs from around the world. The conference ends today.)

In an address to the conference, N.C. Secretary of Commerce Anthony Copeland pointed out several reasons for the state's booming life science sector.

"North Carolina is one of the best places in the world for life sciences and a rich place to invest because of our universities and our talent," he said. "It's one of the few states where a product can go from lab to manufacturing. Time and again, people find inspiration in NC."

Direct employment in life science firms has grown consistently since the "Great Recession" of 2008-2009:

  • 2010: 56,842
  • 2012: 58,589
  • 2014: 60,717
  • 2016: 62,937

Directly related employment recovered from a 9,000 dip between 2012-2014 to top 259,000 last year, the report says:

  • 2010: 226,823
  • 2012: 237,665
  • 2014: 228,259
  • 2016: 259,963

"Employment multiplier"

Charting NC life science growthThe report notes that the 62,000 direct jobs drive related employment of 4.13 jobs, up from 3.99 in earlier data.

"As industries grow and mature, their local supply chains and workforce development relationships strengthen. As a result, more of an industry’s operational spending is captured locally, increasing economic integration and expanding local impacts," the report's summary notes.

"As North Carolina’s has emerged as a leading national and international center for life sciences business activity, this increasing integration is evident in increases in local jobs supported by the sector—the employment multiplier has increased from 3.99 state jobs supported by each life sciences job to 4.13 jobs in 2016."

Those jobs and economic impact have produced other benefits, a summary of the report notes:

  • "The life science industry generated nearly $2.2 billion in state and local government revenues in 2016, up more than 13 percent from $1.9 billion in 2010.
  • "In terms of employment, the total economic impact from the life science industry stands at nearly 260,000 jobs, accounting for nearly 5 percent of total employment in the state."

The growth also is spread across the state, not just the Triangle, which has been identified in other reports over the years as a top 5 US biotech cluster in terms of size.

"These broad impacts are extending across and throughout the state, reflecting the diverse nature of North Carolina’s industry and revealing one of the core value propositions for life sciences economic development—local areas, both urban and rural, can develop a comparative advantage in an industry niche," the Biotech Center said in summarizing the data.

"In the life sciences, that niche can range from the innovative biotechnology research conducted in the lab to the production of new therapeutics and vaccines to the distribution of precision medical devices."

Note: For more coverage of the event, check links with this post.

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