Volume 90 Issue 30 | p. 6 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 23, 2012 | Web Date: July 19, 2012

Unemployment Data For Chemists Improve Slightly

ACS News: Unemployment rate of 4.2% for ACS members in 2012 is down from 4.6% level in 2011
By Rudy M. Baum
Department: ACS News | Collection: Economy
Keywords: Chemical employment, American Chemical Society, ACS
Unemployment among ACS members is down in 2012 from a record high in 2011. SOURCES: ACS salary survey 2012, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate for American Chemical Society members in March 2012 fell to 4.2% from the record high of 4.6% recorded in March 2011, according to the society’s Membership & Scientific Advancement Division (M&SA). The March 2011 unemployment rate was the highest level recorded since the society began tracking employment in 1972.

Although still high by historical standards, the 4.2% unemployment rate for ACS members is well below the 8.2% national unemployment rate in March reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That rate was down from 8.9% in March 2011.

According to Elizabeth McGaha, manager of the Department of Research & Member Insights in M&SA, this year’s salary and employment survey showed that 90% of ACS members were employed full-time as of March 1, 2012; 3.2% were part-time, and 2.6% were in postdoc positions. More than 7,000 ACS members completed the survey, which was conducted with domestic regular members younger than 70. No students, emeritus, retired, or international members were included.

Median salaries in current dollars for ACS chemists employed full-time have declined somewhat for Ph.D. (1.9%) and M.S. (1.1%) degree holders, McGaha says. B.S. chemists saw a modest increase of 2.3% in their salaries. The percent of ACS chemists within academia rose to 35% in 2012 from 31% in 2011; the percent employed in industry is down for both manufacturing—44% in 2012 from 45% in 2011—and nonmanufacturing—20% compared with 22%.

Overall, one-quarter of survey respondents expect their employment situation to be better by March 2013; 68% predict that their situation will be about the same.

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