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Job market figures paint unhealthy picture--with healthcare an exception

A grim unemployment report is the centerpiece of political debate, yet healthcare jobs continue to increase.
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Labeling
A grim unemployment report is the centerpiece of political debate, yet healthcare jobs continue to increase.

The mass of people exiting trains from Chicago’s Richard B. Ogilvie Transportation Center--seemingly hustling to work on September 6--was an encouraging sign. But then, with Labor Day in the rearview mirror and most of us back from summer vacations, the heavy foot traffic was not surprising.

The ugly truth, according to the Sept. 2 employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is that the nation’s unemployment rate held at 9.1%, with 14 million unemployed persons--essentially unchanged from August, and with little change since April. Those job figures caused more volatility late last week on Wall Street, again fueling recession fears.

As reported previously, healthcare jobs increased. The Bureau’s Career Guide to Industries, 2010-2011 Edition notes, “Healthcare will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry, largely in response to rapid growth in the elderly population.”

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Diving further into the Guide, specifically under Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing, there are some descriptions of packaging automation, filling, sealing, and labeling. In the outlook portion of this section, the Guide notes, “The number of wage and salary jobs in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing is expected to increase by 6 percent over the 2008-2018 period, compared with 11 percent projected for all industries.”

On the surface, that number appears at odds with healthcare’s overall growth, indicating modest job growth in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing. The outlook says job prospects, “should be favorable, particularly for life scientists with a doctoral degree. Unlike many other manufacturing industries, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry is not highly sensitive to changes in economic conditions. Even during periods of high unemployment, work is likely to be relatively stable in this industry, because consumption of medicine does not vary greatly with economic conditions. Additional openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other industries, retire, or leave the workforce for other reasons.” Tell us what you see regarding packaging job prospects.

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