ACS survey shows a drop in unemployment and a bump in starting salaries

Last year’s chemistry graduates in the US saw the jobs market improve, with unemployment falling from nearly 15% to 12.4%, according to figures from the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) annual graduate survey, released on 29 June.

Nevertheless, unemployment among new chemistry graduates ‘continues to run high,’ and was roughly 4 times as high as the rate for regular ACS members in 2014, the ACS noted. The unemployment figure was 12.4% for new grads versus 2.9% for ACS members, according to the survey, which was sent to 12,771 recent graduates in October and November 2014.

The overall picture is much rosier than the one painted by ACS’ last survey, which reported unemployment among chemistry graduates rising from 12.6% to 14.9% between 2012 and 2013.

ACS’s new data show that the median starting salary for new chemistry graduates with a bachelor’s degree in 2014 improved 2.6% ahead of inflation. But at the same time, salaries for new master’s and PhD holders lagged behind inflation. Worst hit was the median starting salary of new doctorate chemists, which fell 20% from $75,000 in 2013 to $60,000 in 2014.

Regarding equality of the sexes, the survey reveals that new female chemistry graduates earned a starting median salary that was 7.3% less than their male counterparts in 2014. However, among chemical engineers, new female graduates were paid a starting median salary that was 3% higher than their male equivalents.