RALEIGH – The Triangle’s life science, biotech, and biopharmaceutical sector is showing strength, as the sector continues to add jobs through the end of the second quarter of the year, a new report finds.

According to the US Life Science Employment Pulse Report, life science employers posted 622,087 job advertisements in the three month period.

That’s up by about 27% from the prior year, and up from the first quarter as well, when there were nearly 541,000 job postings in the sector nationally, the latest quarterly report from GeneCoda found.

There’s reason to believe the Triangle is outperforming the nation when it comes to job openings and job opening growth, said Don Alexander, CPC, the author of the report and the president and managing director of Raleigh-based GeneCoda.

“My hunch is that the North Carolina market will fare better than many because of the diversity of firms located here and that this area is a strong magnet for setting up shop or even hiring remote employees,” Alexander tells WRAL TechWire.

GeneCoda studies job openings because job postings, also known as job advertisements, predate hires made by firms, Alexander points out.  That’s also why the WRAL TechWire Jobs Report tracks job openings in the Triangle.

And right now, even with economic uncertainty affecting other sectors, life science may be a bit more resilient in a changing economy, said Alexander.

Triangle jobs market remains strong; report says life science firms keep hiring

Life science growth, recession resiliency

“Life sciences and biopharmaceutical industry has been, historically, a little more recession proof,” says Alexander.  “There’s a level of recession proofing that is inherent in the industry, which is perhaps one advantage compared to the technology industry, but I don’t know that to be true.”

And the Triangle, which has seen the number of firms triple in the prior two decades, according to Alexander, is very strong.  It’s not only that a number of firms are choosing to open facilities or launch here in the area, it’s also that firms are starting and growing in the region.

That growth is coming across the industry, including emerging gene and cell therapy companies, contract manufacturing, CROs, and vaccine production and manufacturing, said Alexander.

In fact, Alexander explains, for CROs, the Triangle could be thought of as a “global epicenter of the industry.”  A number of the world’s largest CROs are based, either with headquarters or with significant operations, in the greater Triangle region, said Alexander.

“Then, start to add in contract manufacturing companies,” he adds.  “That’s all enormous in the area, as well.”

Perspectives on life science industry trends, and what companies need – a Future of Work Q&A

Not concerned about layoffs

Despite Invitae announcing that it could lay off workers, generally, the life science sector has not seen many large-scale announcements of layoffs this year, Alexander notes.

“We track layoffs and there haven’t been many large-scale announcements in terms of total headcount this year,” explains Alexander.  Most announcements of layoffs, even those that indicate a reduction of headcount as high as 35%, don’t actually represent a large number of workers, said Alexander, noting that a reduction of 35% at a company with 60 employees still means that the existing life science sector, regardless of geography, is likely to “readily absorb many of those employees at a rapid rate.”

The life science sector has its own trendlines, and may not follow national economic trends.  Instead of life science companies worrying about layoffs, they may be worried about not identifying enough talented workers to fill open roles, adds Alexander.

“Take the amount of time you think it will take to fill an in-demand job and double it,” Alexander says i offering advice he would provide to employers in the sector.  “Know who your competitors are and that they are not necessarily located in North Carolina.”

Special report: What life science companies need to thrive in the Future of Work