Industry data: Life sciences employment rises 23.5% in Washington state from 2015 to 2019

Life sciences economic activity is strong and growing in Washington state, according to a report released Thursday from the industry group Life Science Washington.

The organization’s economic impact report shows a 23.5% increase in jobs in the field from 2015 to 2019. More than 39,000 people are employed in life science jobs in the state, at an average annual wage of $106,122.

“I think we’re in a wonderful place, a much stronger and more cohesive community,” said Leslie Alexandre in a recent podcast with GeekWire.

The region was once known for forging biotechs whose operations would shut down after acquisition by larger companies, said Alexandre, who plans to retire after five years as CEO of Life Science Washington.

But more recently, larger biotech companies such as Seagen have stayed and built manufacturing capacity in the region. And acquisitions have spawned fresh companies as talent moves to new ventures, noted Alexandre. Umoja Biopharma, Sana Biotechnology and Shape Therapeutics were founded or are led by veterans of Juno Therapeutics, which was acquired by Celgene in a $9 billion deal in 2018.

The digital health and health IT sector is also growing and, according to the report, accounts for almost a quarter of the more than 1,100 life science organizations in the state.

Alexandre has one warning: As the life science industry grows, regional leaders should focus on training and attracting workers. “I think that we need to make sure that we’re keeping our eye on the ball, that we’re making the investments we need to in workforce,” Alexandre told GeekWire.

Here are more highlights from the report, which pulled data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources.

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