America’s vanishing science jobs

Josh Bloom in the New York Post reports on the difficult job market facing chemistry PhDs:

After earning my PhD, in chemistry, I worked in drug-discovery research for more than 20 years. Aside from being a fascinating profession, it was pretty secure — until the last decade. Then it became anything but.

Why the change? Well, it costs about $1 billion to bring a new drug to market. Blockbuster drugs that bring in multiple billions in profits, such as Lipitor, are needed to support the R&D costs of all other drugs — ones that don’t pan out, and ones that just can’t help enough people to justify the investment before the patent expires. And the patents of almost all current blockbusters are expiring about now, cutting drug companies’ revenues drastically.

Bloom ends with the bold claim: “We don’t need more scientists — not unless there are jobs for them.”

I’d like to see this type of analysis deepened and extrapolated to other fields. But as someone experiencing the difficult PhD job market, this piece hit close to home even though I wasn’t in chemistry. I’m finding that even my fancy policy experience isn’t always enough to secure a position.

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