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HEARD ON THE BEAT / HEALTH CARE

Medical Industry Growing, but Average Salary Shrinking

April 26, 1996|Barbara Marsh

Experts generally agree that Orange County's medical industry is getting bigger all the time.

But just how big seems to be anybody's guess.

The California Health Care Institute, a trade group of mostly large employers, estimated this week that health care technology accounts for 10,500 jobs in the county. The La Jolla-based group pegged the average annual industry salary at a tidy $42,813.

The group based its figures largely on a statewide survey of 950 California companies by KPMG Peat Marwick LLP. Allergan Inc., Baxter Healthcare Corp., and Beckman Instruments Inc., and 22 other companies with Orange County operations were included.

But the survey didn't fully account for the industry's fastest-growing sector, small businesses, says David Anast, publisher of Biomedical Market Newsletter Inc. in Costa Mesa. Anast, whose firm keeps tabs on 800 companies across the county, estimates the job total approaches 17,500 if companies with fewer than 100 employees are included.

He also projects a lower average salary figure for the industry. Noting that small companies generally pay less than the big ones, even for engineers and regulatory experts in high demand, he puts the average at $38,000 to $40,000.

*

Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at barbara.marsh@latimes.com

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