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[IWS] CRS: THE U.S. SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING WORKFORCE: Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment [6 May 2013]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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[Please note that for the next few weeks, postings will include key material that was released since early May 2013 until late August 2013. This is the time period that the IWS Documented News Service is not operational. Otherwise new material will be posted as usual].

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

The U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce: Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment

John F. Sargent Jr., Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

May 6, 2013

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43061.pdf

[full-text, 40 pages]

 

Summary

The adequacy of the U.S. science and engineering workforce has been an ongoing concern of

Congress for more than 60 years. Scientists and engineers are widely believed to be essential to

U.S. technological leadership, innovation, manufacturing, and services, and thus vital to U.S.

economic strength, national defense, and other societal needs. Congress has enacted many

programs to support the education and development of scientists and engineers. Congress has also

undertaken broad efforts to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to

prepare a greater number of students to pursue science and engineering (S&E) degrees. Some

policymakers have sought to increase the number of foreign scientists and engineers working in

the United States through changes in visa and immigration policies.

 

Many policymakers, business leaders, academicians, S&E professional society analysts,

economists, and others hold diverse views with respect to the adequacy of the S&E workforce and

related policy issues. These issues include the question of the existence of a shortage of scientists

and engineers in the United States, what the nature of such a shortage might be (e.g., too few

people with S&E degrees, mismatched skills and needs), and whether the federal government

should undertake policy interventions to address such a putative shortage or to allow market forces

to work in this labor market. Among the key indicators used by labor economists to assess

occupational labor shortages are employment growth, wage growth, and unemployment rates.

 

In 2011, there were 5.9 million scientists and engineers employed in the United States, accounting

for 4.6% of total U.S. employment. Science and engineering employment was concentrated in

two S&E occupational groups, computer occupations (56%) and engineers (25%), with the rest

accounted for by S&E managers (9%), physical scientists (4%), life scientists (4%), and those in

mathematical occupations (2%). From 2008 to 2011 S&E employment increased by 99,550,

rising to 5.9 million, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.6%, while overall U.S.

employment contracted at 1.7% CAGR. Viewed only in aggregate, the overall increase in S&E

employment masks the varied degrees of growth and decline in the detailed S&E occupations.

 

In 2011, the mean wage for all scientists and engineers was $85,700, while the mean wage for all

other occupations was $43,300. Between 2008 and 2011, the mean wages of each S&E

occupational group grew more slowly (1.5%-2.2% CAGR) than the mean wage for all

occupations (2.3% CAGR).

 

Compared to the overall workforce, the S&E occupational groups had significantly lower

unemployment rates for the 2008-2011 period. In general, though, the professional occupations

(of which the S&E occupations are a part) historically have had lower unemployment rates than

the workforce as a whole. In 2011, the overall S&E unemployment rate of 3.9% was higher than

for other selected professional occupations, including lawyers (2.1%), physicians and surgeons

(0.6%), dentists (0.7%), and registered nurses (2.0%).

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of science and engineering jobs (as defined in

this report) will grow by 1.1 million between 2010 and 2020, a growth rate (1.7% CAGR) that is

somewhat faster than that of the overall workforce (1.3%). In addition, BLS projects that a further

1.3 million scientists and engineers will be needed to replace those projected to exit S&E

occupations. Growth in the S&E occupational groups is projected to range from 1.0%-2.0%

CAGR. The number of scientists and engineers needed to meet growth and net replacement needs

between 2010 and 2020 is 2.4 million, including 1.4 million in the computer occupations and

525,900 engineers.

 

Contents

Overview.......................................................................................................................................... 1

Methodology .................................................................................................................................... 2

Occupational Taxonomy ............................................................................................................ 2

Data Sources .............................................................................................................................. 3

Timeframe ................................................................................................................................. 4

Methodological Limitations ...................................................................................................... 4

Selected S&E Occupational Data .................................................................................................... 6

Current Employment, Wages, and Unemployment ................................................................... 6

Employment ........................................................................................................................ 6

Wages .................................................................................................................................. 6

Unemployment .................................................................................................................... 9

Recent Trends in Employment, Wages, and Unemployment .................................................. 12

Employment Trends .......................................................................................................... 12

Wage Trends ...................................................................................................................... 18

Unemployment Trends ...................................................................................................... 19

Employment Projections, 2010-2020 ...................................................................................... 20

Scientists and Engineers in Aggregate .............................................................................. 20

Science and Engineering Occupational Groups ................................................................ 20

Detailed Science and Engineering Occupations ................................................................ 23

Concluding Observations ............................................................................................................... 27

 

Figures

Figure 1. Share of S&E Occupational Employment, 2011 .............................................................. 6

Figure 2. Mean Wages of S&E Occupational Groups and Other Selected Professional Occupations, 2011 ......... 7

Figure 3. Unemployment Rates for S&E Occupational Groups and Selected Professional and Related Occupations, 2011 ........... 10

Figure 4. Nominal and Inflation-adjusted Compound Annual Growth Rates of Mean Wages in S&E Occupational Groups, 2008-2011 ........................ 18

Figure 5. Unemployment Rates for S&E Occupational Groups, the Overall Workforce, and Other Selected Professional and Related Occupations, 2008-2011 .............. 19

Figure 6. Share of Total Projected S&E Occupational Job Growth, 2010-2020, by S&E Occupational Group ................................ 22

Figure 7. Share of Total Projected S&E Occupational Job Openings (Job Growth plus Net Replacement Needs), 2010-2020, by S&E Occupational Group ............. 22

 

Tables

Table 1. Mean Wages of S&E Occupations, 2011 ........................................................................... 7

Table 2. Unemployment Rate for S&E Occupational Groups and Detailed S&E Occupations, 2011 ................................... 10

Table 3. Employment Change in S&E Occupational Groups, 2008-2011 ..................................... 12

Table 4. Employment in Detailed S&E Occupations, 2008-2011 .................................................. 14

Table 5. S&E Occupations with the Largest Employment Growth, 2008-2011 ............................ 16

Table 6. S&E Occupations with the Largest Employment Losses, 2008-2011 ............................. 16

Table 7. S&E Occupations with the Fastest Growth Rates, 2008-2011 ......................................... 17

Table 8. S&E Occupations with the Slowest Growth Rates, 2008-2011 ....................................... 17

Table 9. 2010-2020 Employment Projections for S&E Occupational Groups .............................. 21

Table 10. S&E Occupations with the Highest Projected Growth in Jobs and Other Selected Occupations, 2010-2020 .................. 23

Table 11. S&E Occupations with the Smallest Projected Growth in Jobs, 2010-2020 .................. 24

Table 12. S&E Occupations with the Fastest Projected Job Growth, 2010-2020 .......................... 24

Table 13. S&E Occupations with the Slowest Projected Job Growth, 2010-2020 ........................ 25

Table 14. S&E Occupations with the Most Projected Job Openings, 2010-2020 .......................... 26

Table 15. S&E Occupations with the Fewest Projected Job Openings, 2010-2020 ...................... 26

 

Appendixes

Appendix. S&E Occupational Descriptions and Entry-level Education Requirements ................ 32

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 35

 

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 




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