Figure 3.1

Fraction of US life-science PhDs holding faculty positions, 1973–1995.

Data from table F.1.

Employment in Government

A modest decline was also observed in the fraction of life-science PhD recipients employed in national laboratories and other federal, state, and local government positions. In 1995, only 11% of the 9–10 year cohort held government jobs, compared with 14% 22 years earlier (see figure 3.2). The decline might be attributed primarily to downsizing in the major federal laboratories, which in the past had employed large numbers of PhD scientists.

Positions in Industry

The appreciable decline in the fraction of young graduates taking faculty or government positions was accompanied by increased hiring in the industrial sector, especially among the more experienced graduates (see figure 3.2). In 1995, 23% of the life-science graduates with 9–10 years of experience were employed in industry, compared with only 12% in 1973. If that trend continues for the next decade, today's graduate students are more likely to find jobs in industry than on university faculties. However, it should be noted that most of the increase in industrial hiring occurred during the 1980s with only modest growth since 1989. Future employment opportunities in this sector will most likely depend on the national economy and in particular on the health of the biotechnology industry; both are difficult to predict with any confidence.

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