RALEIGH – There are signs that a slowing national economy may now be impacting the life science market, as a new report indicates that advertisements for life science jobs in the United States fell for the first time in nearly two years last quarter.

That’s as employers have posted 578,402 job openings in the life sciences sector during the third quarter, the latest US Life Science Employment Pulse Report from GeneCoda found.

The latest job posting data shows a decrease from the second quarter of 2022, when there were nearly 600,000 job openings posted in the sector (the second quarter figures have been updated with the release of the third quarter report, showing a downward revision of about 23,000 roles).

“The sector has been growing on a year-over-year basis and did so again with a double-digit performance but it appears to have plateaued near term,” said Don Alexander, the president and managing director of GeneCoda® Executive & Professional Search, in an interview with WRAL TechWire.

And what’s happening nationally is also occurring in the Triangle, said Alexander. “Although [job] posts in the Triangle metropolitan statistical areas have fallen this past quarter, the numbers are consistent with the US overall,” he said.  “Triangle area companies continue to hire,” Alexander noted.

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Analyzing the latest data on life science sector jobs

Still, though, the sector is showing growth compared to the third quarter of 2021.  The data shows a 12% increase in job openings year-over-year.

But, the number of advertised jobs fell beneath the report’s two period moving average for the first time in the last eight quarters, which suggests further downside, the report’s key findings section notes.

“Moving averages represent directional trends – technical indicators – that investors often evaluate in the context of the stock market,” said Alexander.  “If a moving average moves above its trendline, this is seen as directionally positive so we would expect continued movement in an upward direction.”

However, the latest quarter of data has moved this indicator below the trendline.

“We would expect this trend to continue in the coming quarter,” said Alexander.

Another trend that may continue?  The continued shifting of life science sector jobs to ones that can be conducted remotely.

“I continue to find the remote job postings compelling as a percentage of all posts,” said Alexander.  “One might consider that 25% or more of all industry job posts might ultimately be remote roles and we’re at around 14% now so companies need to continue to keep these trends in mind when planning.”

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What’s changing

A large portion of the decrease, measured to be about 3.5%, came in the medical device sector, which shed 2% of job openings, according to the report.

“At a ‘grass roots’ level, companies continue to add key staff,” the report’s analysis notes.  “Recruitment lead times are still long in specialized cases, but upward wage pressures appear to be levelling off.”

The report notes that there are “headwinds” to be expected in the fourth quarter of 2022 “with more challenging quarterly comparisons and sustained volatility in the investment markets.”  That might mean that there is a flattening of job openings, the report notes, forecasting that the fourth quarter will see about the same number of job advertisements as measured in the third quarter of 2022.

Alexander confirmed to WRAL TechWire that the forecast is for a “flat quarter,” or 0% growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the third quarter.

“We’ve been at historic posting levels for two years in a row,” said Alexander.  “It would be challenging to see that torrid pace persist in perpetuity!”

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