Saturday, January 21, 2012

Genetic/Genomic Testing Creates Jobs

Driven by rapid innovation made possible in large part by the mapping of the human genome, genetic and genomic clinical laboratory testing generates 116,000 U.S. jobs and contributes $16.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to a new report by the Battelle Memorial Institute.

The report titled “The Economic and Functional Impacts of Genetic and Genomic Clinical Laboratory Testing in the United States” was sponsored by the American Clinical Laboratory Association, and their educational arm “Results for Life.” Because this industry sector is still in the early stages of development, much future growth is expected.

It was found that the industry sector’s ability to innovate and produce cutting-edge genetic testing services and products supports about 44,000 direct jobs and generates another 73,000 jobs in key supplier industries such as real estate, food services, and wholesale trade businesses, as the result of consumer spending by laboratory employees. Together, the genetic and genomic laboratory testing sector-related workforce received nearly $6 billion in wages and benefits in 2009. It also generated $657 million in estimated state and local tax revenue and nearly $1.2 billion in federal taxes in 2009.

“The fact that genetic and genomic testing has created 116,000 jobs and $6 billion in personal income for U.S. workers in the middle of one of the country’s worst recessions should be noted by U.S. policy leaders. This industry is one of America’s true economic success stories.” said Alan Mertz, ACLA President. “It is also important to recognize that a significant amount of that amount is coming from the small innovative start-up labs throughout the U.S.”

Battelle reports that comparatively high levels of wages and salaries are provided within the industry, along with sound benefits packages. It was found that the annual average personal income of a worker in this sector was about $57,000 in 2009 which is a significant wage premium as compared to roughly $45,000 in the overall U.S. economy.

In addition to fueling the economy, innovative genetic tests are enabling a revolution in medical care and genetic testing by identifying the genetic nature of a disease or condition that enables physicians to better target treatments. Significant improvement is occurring as a result in a range of conditions such as childhood leukemia, HIV, heart disease, cervical cancer, blood clotting, melanoma, and colorectal cancer.

For example, physicians use these clinical laboratory genetic tests to target cancer therapies to an individual’s unique genetic fingerprint, which has improved survival rates in many types of cancer. Genetic tests are used to diagnose certain genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis in babies, so treatment can begin early and minimize the disease’s impact. Genetic tests are also used to improve patient safety by preventing underdosing, overdosing, or misdosing medications which can cost more than $100 billion annually in human suffering.

“This report provides a much clearer understanding of the real-world impact in terms of jobs, economic growth, and health cost savings and in terms of rapid innovation in genetic and genomic testing” said Mertz. “This information can help guide strategic economic development and regulatory efforts at both the state and national levels as decision makers look to nurture high growth economic sectors.”

To view the report, go to or to