San Diego Area’s Growing Life Sciences Industry Now Employs 50,000

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A San Diego life sciences startup. Courtesy CONNECT

The life science industry in San Diego County has grown by 20 percent over the past five years and is now a $19 billion powerhouse employing nearly 50,000 people last year.

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That was one of the conclusions of a report released Tuesday by Biocom, the largest trade group for the industry in California, with 900 member organizations statewide.

Life sciences jobs are among the highest paying in the county, Biocom found, with average annual compensation over $100,000, and even exceeding $150,000 in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing sector.

The jobs in life sciences support another 133,000 jobs across the county, for a combined impact of $33 billion annually.

Biocom said a highly educated workforce, particularly within the City of San Diego, has enabled the region to emerge as a major center of life science research, development and production.

“The life science industry in San Diego County is among the strongest in the nation,” the report found, adding that “the city’s highly educated workforce fuels San Diego’s stature as a leading cluster.”

Biocomm’s analysis showed the nearly 50,000 direct jobs divided among the following sectors:

  • Bio-Renewables — 1,675
  • Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing — 6,876
  • Medical Devices & Diagnostic Equipment — 9,770
  • Life Science Wholesale — 4,117
  • Research & Lab Services — 27,325

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Statewide, the cluster of nine counties around San Francisco had the largest number of life sciences jobs in 2016 — 96,390 — followed by Los Angeles County with 69,830 jobs and San Diego County with 49,764.

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