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How Will the Recession Affect Science Jobs?

Science job losses

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the world's economies, and as a result, many people have lost their jobs. According to Channel 4, the coronavirus pandemic has already caused more unemployment than the financial crisis of 2008, and we're nowhere near out of the woods yet.


What does this mean for the life sciences sector?

The recent economic uncertainty has left few if any sectors unscathed. Many workers in the life sciences industry have been furloughed or laid off, just like their counterparts in other fields and it's likely that more job losses are still to come.

Young scientists who were expecting to embark on bright new careers in 2020 have instead found their prospects in jeopardy. With beleaguered employers cutting costs and postponing their searches for new talent, opportunities are scarce right now, and this could have long-lasting consequences for those unfortunate enough to be leaving university in 2020. According to the USA's National Bureau of Economic Research, graduating in a time of recession results in "large initial earnings losses" and can lead workers to "start out with employers that are smaller on average and pay less". The NBER also observe that these workers often try to "catch up by switching jobs more frequently than those who graduate in better times".

Still, established and aspiring scientists alike can take heart, because they are the people who can provide solutions to problems like the coronavirus. Scientific ingenuity is never more in demand than during a global crisis, and while some scientific companies are struggling right now, many others are crying out for new talent to help humanity emerge stronger from this period of adversity.

The ongoing effort to produce an effective vaccine is what's making headlines right now, but the sciences are rising to the challenge of COVID-19 in many other ways, too - for instance, by developing new systems that make it easier for firms to continue working in these times, or by manufacturing products that help to reduce transmission.


Are some science jobs more recession-proof than others?

Wondering which scientific sector is the safest bet in these chaotic times? Here are two possible answers:

  • Data Science - According to Analytics Insight, "new job postings in data science and analytics have declined overall, [but] they currently appear to be declining at a slower rate than than that of most other occupations". Data science is a crucial tool for enterprises in these unprecedented times; analytics can help us to understand the impact of COVID-19 on our society, and this understanding allows business to plan smarter, more effective responses. Browse Data Science Jobs >>

  • Pharmaceuticals - In times of sickness, people need medicine. Per, pharma jobs are "considered generally recession-proof since people prioritise essential expenses like prescription drugs during times of economic hardships". Browse Pharmaceutical Jobs >>

The COVID-19 crisis has taught us that no industry is invulnerable, but whatever happens, the world will always need talented scientists in roles where they can make a difference. If you're currently looking for work, you can browse and apply for a wide range of scientific vacancies right here on the HRS website.

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