Immune to the recession? The economic impact of the biomedical and biotechnical industry.

Author:Amsteor, Melissa
Position:Health Care Trends

At a time when the world economy is faltering, there are but a handful of industries still experiencing growth. There has been some talk of job reductions and lower earnings in the health care industry, but as a whole the industry continues to do well. Nationally, employment in the biomedical and biotechnical industry, which includes pharmaceutical and medical supply manufacturing, health care-related wholesale and retail trade as well as the entire health care delivery system, grew by over eight percent between 2002 and 2008.

The biomedical and biotechnical industry has experienced similar growth in the Detroit region. Between 2002 and 2008, employment in the industry has grown by nearly eight percent. But the distribution of this growth deviates significantly from nationwide industry trends. Employment in health care-related manufacturing has declined by almost nine percent. Nationwide, employment in health care-related manufacturing has enjoyed a modest 1.8 percent increase. The actual number of jobs lost in the Detroit region is fairly small, less than 550, most of which was in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing. Other health care-related manufacturing sectors: optical industry and lens manufacturing; electromedical and electrotherapeutic apparatus manufacturing; and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, added employees during the period.

Although the actual gain is small, medical equipment wholesalers have added jobs in the last six years resulting in a 43 percent increase in employment, compared to only an 18 percent increase nationwide. Scientific research and development services employment decreased by over 12 percent in the Detroit region, while the nation as a whole enjoyed an almost 16 percent gain in employment. A large chunk of this employment loss is the result of Pfizer's decision to close its Ann Arbor research and development center.

The health care delivery system, doctors offices, hospitals and nursing facilities, have increased employment in the Detroit region as well as the United States as a whole. While growth in this segment of the industry has been slower in the Detroit region, given our current economic climate and a recent, very small drop in population, these employment gains are noteworthy.

Employment gains in the biomedical and biotechnical industry in the Detroit region is impressive, given the fact that total employment in the Detroit region declined by over eight percent between 2002 and...

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