Throughout the last century, the pharmaceutical and telecommunications sectors were strong economic engines for New Jersey. While both industries have since downsized, Big Pharma has held up much better.
Reporting on the economic impact of drugmakers last week, the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) said its members’ employment rose a modest 2.3 percent last year, to nearly 62,000 jobs in the state. That’s sharply down from the more than 69,000 people that HINJ members employed in 2002, but still marks a move in the right direction.
What’s happened in telecommunications has been less encouraging. From about 49,000 jobs here in 2002, the sector dwindled to just under 39,000 last year. The picture would have been bleaker but for Verizon Communications, which moved into its operating headquarters in Basking Ridge last year.
Meanwhile, the nature of pharmaceutical jobs is shifting, with less research and development being done here and more sales and marketing. R&D dropped from 27 percent of HINJ members’ employment in 2005 to 23 percent last year, while sales and marketing rose from 16 percent to 18 percent.
This suggests that more cutting-edge research is going elsewhere. So even as the drug industry continues a turnaround that shines by comparison with the telecom situation, New Jersey can hardly afford to become complacent.