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Big Pharma Continues Its High Pace Of Layoffs

Big Pharma Continues Its High Pace Of Layoffs: 37,000 jobs lost this year still fewer than in 2009 [The Day, New London, Conn.]

From Day, The (New London, CT) (August 12, 2010)

Aug. 12--Planned U.S. pharmaceutical layoffs more than doubled in July compared with the previous month, but cuts so far this year show a 30 percent reduction from the same period in 2009, according to figures released last week.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas said 2,023 layoffs were recorded last month by pharmaceutical companies, compared with 830 job cuts in June, according to a report in the drug-industry blog FiercePharma. But the 37,010 jobs lost so far this year don’t come close to the 51,549 positions cut by this time last year.

Only 100 new jobs were added by pharmaceutical firms last month.

"The trend in no way suggests a reversal of the significant slowdown in job-cut activity witnessed over the past year," said the firm’s chief executive, John Challenger, in a statement.

Challenger said, however, that seasonal trends may lead to "last-minute adjustments" in payrolls as companies trying to make year-end earnings goals ramp up layoffs.

"Don’t be surprised if there’s an uptick in pharma layoffs in the coming months," FiercePharma said.

Pfizer Inc., which has one of its major research sites in Groton as well as a campus in New London it expects to vacate by the end of next year, has shed at least 8,600 jobs globally since its merger with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals last October. But the company’s local workforce of nearly 5,000 has remained largely intact, and Pfizer has said no layoffs are contemplated as its New London employees are consolidated onto the Groton research campus.

Last month, the company sold its former Pfizer Global Research and Development office complex in New London to Electric Boat for $55 million.

Pharmaceutical companies accounted for more layoffs so far this year than any other sector, except for government and nonprofits, which have led the way in job losses over the past two years. Last year at this time, retail, computer-related and telecommunications job losses all were higher than pharmaceutical layoffs.

Total layoffs in July across all industries showed a 6 percent increase from June, the continuation of a three-month trend in job losses. But Challenger said downsizing activity was at its lowest level since before the 2001 recession.

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Posted: August 2010