Little Good News For Chemistry Job Outlook In 2015

Employment: Unemployment rose slightly for chemists, and salaries remained mostly flat

Andrea Widener, Linda Wang

Chemists seeking a quick turnaround to the employment doldrums were disappointed once again in 2015.

Unemployment among chemists continued to hover around 3.1% in 2015, edging up slightly from 2.9% in 2014, according to the most recent survey of American Chemical Society members.

Salaries continue to stagnate as well. The ChemCensus, a comprehensive survey of ACS members conducted every five years, has shown little change in salaries in almost 30 years when they are adjusted for inflation. In fact, 10.6% of those surveyed in 2015 said they took a salary cut in 2015 to keep their jobs, up from 9.3% in 2014.

The situation is similar for new graduates. Despite an improvement in the unemployment rate from 14.9% in 2013 to 12.4% in 2014, new grads were still far more likely to be unemployed than all ACS members. The number of graduates who took on part-time or temporary work grew from 17.7% in 2013 to 18.8% in 2014.

The news is not all bad, though. According to the ChemCensus, salaries did rise in current dollars in 2015, with a median salary of $105,000 for doctoral degree holders, up from $102,000 from 2014. Master’s degree chemists saw a similar hike to $87,000, up from $85,000, and bachelor’s degree holders’ salaries climbed to $77,000, up from $72,000.

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