Expert Commentary

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Good jobs now and for the future

2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce on the current state of the science, technology, engineering and math-based job industries.

As global competition and market pressures continue to intensify, many U.S. business leaders, educators and policymakers are focused on creating a workforce that will foster innovation and maintain the nation’s traditional position as the world leader in the sciences. To that end, the government and private sector alike are interested in measuring the supply and demand of jobs and labor within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a report, “STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future,” that used information on 50 separate STEM occupations and education data from the 2009 American Community Survey to assess the state of STEM-based industries within America today.

Key points in the report include:

  • “In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the United States, representing about 1 in 18 workers.”
  • “Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs.” Future projections suggest that “STEM occupations [will] grow by 17% from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8% growth for non-STEM occupations.”
  • “The unemployment rate for STEM workers rose from 1.8% in 2007 to 5.5% in 2009 before easing to 5.3% in 2010. The unemployment rate for non-STEM workers rose from 4.8% in 2007 to 9.5% in 2009 and then continued to increase to almost 10% in 2010.”
  • Though more than two-thirds of STEM workers have a bachelor’s degree or more in terms of educational attainment, there are nevertheless opportunities for those with less than a four-year degree: “nearly one-quarter (23%) have completed an associate degree or at least some college, and 9% have a high school diploma or less. So while it is certainly true that the majority of STEM workers tend to have at least a bachelor’s degree, opportunities also exist for STEM workers with lower education levels.”
  • “STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts.” The difference is most pronounced among workers with high school diplomas or lower education levels; in this population STEM jobs pay on average 59.6% higher than non-STEM jobs.

The report’s concluded that “STEM jobs should also be highly desirable to American workers. Regardless of educational attainment, entering a STEM profession is associated with higher earnings and reduced joblessness.”

Tags: economy, technology, science,higher education