Layoffs down, construction up for 2010 pharma

We all know 2010 was a big year for pharma layoffs, plant closures and other sorts of cutbacks. But some new stats suggest that it wasn't quite as bad as 2009. Challenger, Gray & Christmas' job-cuts report shows that 53,636 pharma jobs got the ax in 2010, down from the 2009 total of 61,109. Still not good, but not as terrible as it could have been. Indeed, as the consultancy notes, after reaching a seven-year high in 2009, downsizing activity in 2010 fell to its lowest level since 1997, as employers announced plans to eliminate 529,973 positions.

Even government and non-profit, the largest job-cutting sector of the year, experienced a 17 percent drop in layoffs. However, it was still forced to eliminate 142,255 positions in 2010. That was 165 percent more than the second-ranked pharmaceutical industry, according to the report.

Top Five Industries, Year to Date

Industry 2010 2009



Pharmaceutical 53,636


Retail 38,751


Health Care/Products 28,058


Industrial Goods 26,487


Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas

Meanwhile, as Pharmalot reports, some drug companies actually built plants and other facilities last year. Industrial Info Resources counted 85 facilities wrapped up in 2010 by drug companies, device makers, biotech firms, diagnostics makers and government-backed research groups. That's an increase of almost 12 percent over the 2009 total of 76. Dollarwise, the increase was even more dramatic: $7.1 billion, up from $5.7 billion, or about 24.6 percent.

So, the numbers say 2010 was a tick upward from 2009. The question is whether the decline in layoff pain--and increase in construction--represent a trend. Will 2011 be better than 2010?

- read the Challenger release
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