Report: Biotech, med device wages climb 18 percent over five years

A technician works with a mouse in the Genetically Engineered Models and Services Lab at Charles River Labs.
A technician works with a mouse in the Genetically Engineered Models and Services Lab at Charles River Labs.

Wages in Massachusetts’ healthcare technology industry jumped nearly one-fifth over a recent five-year period, highlighting the sector’s strength as state officials try to encourage broader investment from private companies.

The data comes from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s latest Innovation Economy Index. The report, published each year since 1997, weighs the health of several industries that contribute to new technologies and companies. It also gauges Massachusetts’ health against several competitive states.

The Index’s last full year of data is for 2014, which was charted against comparable statistics from 2009 to give an idea of recent economic trends.

Wages in the biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device sectors grew 18.3 percent in that period to an average of $131,949, the report said. The jump came even as the number of jobs in the industry grew by 2.5 percent, an indication that the surging pay wasn’t merely because a shortage of talent is driving up prices.

That’s significant in an era when many tech-industry executives report a shortage of employees as their top concern. The Massachusetts High Technology Council, an industry trade group, recently ranked Massachusetts as the most difficult state in the country to hire tech workers.

Two other sectors that recorded wage growth of more than 12 percent — financial services and diversified industrial manufacturing — saw their total job numbers decline 4.4 percent and 6.4 percent respectively over the five-year period, the Innovation Economy Index said.

The report said that, in addition to overall contraction, the figures could show that those two sectors are “shifting lower wage jobs to cheaper locales while keeping high value-added activity in Massachusetts.”

Another medical sector, healthcare delivery, saw its wages stay essentially flat over five years even as employment climbed significantly.

Healthcare delivery jobs were the most plentiful among the Index’s innovation-related sectors, growing 10 percent over five years to notch a healthy 363,699 jobs in 2014. Wages over that time declined just one-tenth of 1 percent, to an average of $67,428.