In the Washington Watch column in the December 2013 issue of the journal BioScience, Julie Palakovich Carr explores changing trends in the life sciences labor market resulting from saturation of the academic labor market and the Great Recession.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Biology graduate students have a dizzying array of options after completing their degree, including settling on an initial career path. Although many young biologists hope to make these decisions on the basis of personal preference, changing labor market conditions are likely to influence the decision.

The employment prospects for biologists have changed significantly in recent decades. Until the early 1970s, a person with a doctorate in biology had a good chance of being hired in academia; nearly 70 percent of new PhDs who had a job lined up at graduation went to work in academia. Now, fewer than half of graduates with definitive postdegree plans find employment in academia, according to the federally sponsored Survey on Earned Doctorates. One driver of that precipitous drop was the saturation of the academic labor market as the number of trainees increased.

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