Georgia's Life Science

In good as well as tough economic times, the industries that make up the state’s life sciences are reliable sources of employment and spending.

In 2007, the life sciences industry’s state-wide economic impact was $16 billion and 62,033 jobs, larger than the output impact of the University System of Georgia ($12.1 billion in FY 2008).

In addition, Georgia is a major center of academic research in the life sciences, which generates additional economic impacts. Such research at the state’s colleges and universities generated $1.3 billion in output and nearly 15,000 jobs in fiscal year 2006.

Georgia’s life sciences companies contribute substantial economic activity to the state. The industry is both a pillar of and a driver of the state’s economy that translates into jobs, higher incomes, greater production of goods and services and higher revenue collections for state and local government.

Highlights of the life sciences industries’ 2007 statewide economic impacts include: 17,941 jobs in life sciences companies; 62,033 jobs in all industries; $16 billion in output (sales); $6.2 billion in state GDP; $3.6 billion in labor income (earnings); and $517 million in tax revenues for state and local governments alike.

In addition, life sciences research at the state’s colleges and universities generated these impacts in fiscal year 2006: 14,919 jobs (on- and off-campus); $1.3 billion in output (sales); $807 million in state GDP; $616 million in income (earnings); and $61 million in tax revenues for state and local governments.

On average, for every direct job created by life sciences companies, an additional 2.5 jobs are created in other industries. The bottom line: One job out of every 68 in the state of Georgia owes its existence to either the life sciences industry or to life sciences research and development.

Georgia’s life sciences industry is both relatively young and it is home grown, with the largest group of companies established between 1997 and 2007. More than 80 percent of the surveyed firms for which data were available were founded in Georgia, and 77 percent were headquartered in Georgia. Atlanta, Athens and Augusta are the industry’s hubs.

Analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Georgia’s life sciences industry has grown much faster than the state’s overall economy. Fast-paced growth means more job openings; talent and performance are more likely to be rewarded in growth industries than in stable or declining fields.

The number of life sciences jobs grew twice as fast as the number of jobs in all industries. From 2001-2007, life sciences jobs rose by 10.6 percent compared to 5.3 percent for all industries. Even though life sciences jobs grew faster than the state’s overall job count, the pace slowed considerably between 2005 and 2006.

In 2007, employment in life sciences de-creased. Still, between 2006 and 2007, the number of establishments in Georgia’s life sciences industry grew faster than the number of establishments in the state’s overall economy.

The primary drivers of life sciences job growth were medical and diagnostic laboratories, surgical appliance and supplies manufacturing and life sciences R&D. Pharmaceutical manufacturing also contributed to job growth, but at a slower pace. The emergence of a sizable group of biofuel and bioenergy firms also boosted employment.

Another way to look at Georgia’s life sciences jobs is to focus on occupational employment rankings. Based on 2007 data, Georgia ranks high in terms of the number of jobs in many life sciences occupations: fourth among the states in the number of animal scientists; seventh in the number of zoologists; eighth in the number of microbiologists and foresters, respectively; and 13th in the number of both biological scientists and forensic science technicians.

The industry pays well, too. In the private sector, the average annual pay in was $63,000 in 2007. Pharmaceutical manufacturing was the highest paying subsector within Georgia’s life sciences industry, at $90,000 per year; surgical and medical instrument manufacturing paid $71,000 and R&D companies paid $70,000.

Salaries compare favorably to those in other states as well.

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