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Employment

Coronavirus concerns dampen chemists’ economic outlook

ACS survey shows members are more concerned about the overall economy than the chemical enterprise, but hardships are already hitting younger respondents and those of color

by Andrea Widener
September 28, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 37

Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN

As part of its annual salary survey, the American Chemical Society asked its members how they are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results, collected between May 28 and July 15, 2020, show that members are more optimistic about the fate of the chemical enterprise than they are about the overall economy. But some ACS members are already feeling the impacts in the form of lower income and temporary or permanent layoffs. Part-time employees, postdocs, young scientists, and Black and Latino chemists are feeling the greatest effects.

 

Overall economy

 


Note: Gallup numbers are from a survey conducted July 1–23, 2020, of 1,007 adults.





Note: Countries shown are the 10 with the most respondents.

 

The Chemical enterprise

 


Note: Countries shown are the 10 with the most respondents.

 

Personal impacts

 



Part-time employees have been more affected than full-time employees

Full time Part time Postdoc
Seen a loss of income 16% 40% 8%
Had your hours reduced 10% 39% 30%
Been temporarily laid off 2% 11% 4%
Been permanently let go 1% 6% 3%
Key: 0-10% 11-20% 21-30% 31-40%

Younger respondents have been more affected than older ones

<25 25-34 35-44 45-54 ≥55
Seen a loss of income 32% 13% 19% 17% 18%
Had your hours reduced 38% 18% 9% 7% 7%
Been temporarily laid off 13% 3% 2% 1% 2%
Been permanently let go 9% 2% 1% 1% 1%
Key: 0-10% 11-20% 21-30% 31-40%

Black respondents have been more affected than people of other races or ethnicities

White Black/
African American
Asian Other Hispanic/
Latino
Seen a loss of income 18% 31% 20% 26% 24%
Had your hours reduced 12% 28% 18% 23% 21%
Been temporarily laid off 2% 9% 5% 7% 8%
Been permanently let go 2% 6% 3% 3% 3%
Key: 0-10% 11-20% 21-30% 31-40%

Note: Respondents could choose more than one race and could additionally denote their Hispanic/Latino identity in response to a separate question.


Younger respondents and all respondents of color are also more concerned about losing their jobs in the next 12 months

 

Note: Respondents could choose more than one race and could additionally denote their Hispanic/Latino identity in response to a separate question.



But part-time employees, postdocs, and temporary employees are more likely to seek a change than full-time employees

Full timePart time Postdoc Temporary
Apply to a new job 14% 23% 28% 24%
Apply for an additional job 8% 23% 19% 20%
Seek a higher salary in your current position 8% 14% 12% 13%
Seek a higher title or promotion 9% 11% 16% 14%
Key: 0-10% 11-20% 21-30% 31-40%

Young respondents and respondents of color are also more likely to seek a change

<25 25-34 35-44 45-54 ≥55
Apply to a new job 26% 23% 18% 13% 8%
Apply for an additional job 27% 14% 10% 7% 5%
Seek a higher salary in your current position 15% 14% 9% 6% 3%
Seek a higher title or promotion 13% 15% 10% 9% 4%

 

White Black/
African American
Asian Other Hispanic/
Latino
Apply to a new job 15% 37% 22% 26% 26%
Apply for an additional job 9% 35% 16% 21% 17%
Seek a higher salary in your current position 7% 24% 16% 19% 20%
Seek a higher title or promotion 8% 21% 16% 19% 18%
Key: 0-10% 11-20% 21-30% 31-40%

Note: Respondents could choose more than one race and could additionally denote their Hispanic/Latino identity in response to a separate question.

 

Who took the survey?

These are the US ACS members who took the 2020 survey

 





Note: Numbers do not add to 100% because respondents could choose more than one race and could additionally denote their Hispanic/Latino identity in response to a separate question.



Only a small fraction identified themselves as disabled

4%



OVERALL ECONOMY
09837-feature4-economy1.jpg

Most US respondents think that overall economic conditions in the country are getting worse
09837-feature4-economy2.jpg
US residents overall are less pessimistic than ACS members in the US when you compare this survey to a Gallup poll
Note: Gallup numbers are from a survey conducted July 1–23, 2020, of 1,007 adults.
09837-feature4-economy3.jpg
Members in Brazil and Spain were most concerned about the economy in their countries
THE CHEMICAL ENTERPRISE
09837-feature4-chemical1.jpg

US respondents are not as concerned about the economics of the chemical enterprise as they are about the economy overall
09837-feature4-chemical2.jpg
That is also true for international members
PERSONAL IMPACTS
09837-feature4-personal1.jpg

Most US respondents have not yet experienced direct employment impacts from the pandemic
09837-feature4-personal2.jpg
And most don’t anticipate losing their jobs in the next 12 months
09837-feature4-personal3.jpg
Younger respondents have been more affected than older ones
09837-feature4-personal4.jpg
Black respondents have been more affected than people of other races or ethnicities
Note: Numbers do not add to 100% because respondents could choose more than one race and could additionally denote their Hispanic/Latino identity in response to a separate question.

Note: Most numbers are based on a survey conducted between May 28 and July 15, 2020, of 5,850 US ACS members. International responses to the same survey are presented for the 10 countries with the most responses, which were Brazil, 39; Canada, 107; France, 25; Germany, 39; India, 193; Italy, 29; Japan, 79; Nigeria, 29; Spain, 33; and the UK, 53. Some numbers have been rounded so that percentages equal 100%.

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