By Nick Otto
Employment within the medical device industry remained steady in 2013, with most device-makers experiencing increases in their workforce.
With continued growth expected this year, and with more firms hiring, the medtech industry may finally be picking up steam, according to a new jobs report published by EP Vantage.
Of the top 15 companies listed in the report, only three experienced an employee reduction, with two pointing to pharmaceutical spinoffs as the reason in workforce reduction.
With those three companies aside, the other 12 top medtech companies reported a workforce that has increased, on average, by 6 percent in the last year.
Among the top 5 companies, Baxter International saw the biggest growth, thanks in part to its $4 billion purchase of Gambro, netting an additional 8,000 employees for the device giant.
Intuitive Surgical, Stryker, Essilor International, and Coloplast rounded out the top five highest percentage-change companies netting employee gains.
“There were a few eye-catching acquisitions and divestments in 2013, but overall, medtech companies increased their headcount slowly and steadily,” said Elizabeth Cairns, the report’s author, in a press release. “The trend towards pharma spin-outs means large medtech is getting purer. And with several megamergers underway, we can expect to see much more drastic changes in device makers’ headcounts in the coming years.”
The report notes that Johnson and Johnson is currently the only one of the top 15 tech giants to still have significant pharmaceutical operations, and says the company could be considering to follow suit in the demerging trend. With almost 128 years as a conglomerate, however, the company could still remain content in being one.
The report did caution that employment growth doesn’t always correlate with a healthy company, adding that the faster growing companies have had a “rather turbulent” year. For instance, Intuitive Surgical noted falling sales numbers, and its suite of Da Vinci robotic surgery systems are “less safe and certainly less cost effective than standard operations performed by human surgeons,” the study notes.
The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) earlier this year released figures noting a “significant” reduction in jobs due to the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3 percent device excise tax. According to AdvaMed’s report, the tax has led to roughly 33,000 job losses — due to either employee reduction or foregoing hiring new employees.