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New Commerce Department Report Shows Fast-Growing STEM Jobs Offer Higher Pay, Lower Unemployment

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 14, 2011
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
202-482-4883

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) today released a new report that profiles U.S. employment in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future offers an inside look at workers who are driving our nation’s innovation and competitiveness and helping America win the future with new ideas, new companies and new industries.

In 2010, 7.6 million people or 5.5 percent of the labor force worked in STEM occupations. Key findings from the new report show that over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs, and STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade. Meanwhile, STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness.

“This report profiles the fast-growing, productive STEM workforce and illustrates how we can win the future by encouraging the pursuit of 21st century jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “STEM jobs are essential to a competitive, innovative and technologically advanced U.S. economy.”

Further findings show STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts. STEM degree holders also enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. Likewise, college graduates – no matter what their major – enjoy an earnings premium for having a STEM job. 

“A STEM education is a pathway to prosperity – not just for you as an individual but for America as a whole,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “We need you in our classrooms, labs and key government agencies to help solve our biggest challenges, and that’s why we are investing heavily to promote STEM education.”

In comparison to the average worker, STEM workers are highly educated. More than two-thirds of STEM workers have at least a college degree, compared to less than one-third of non-STEM workers. 

“We applaud the administration's strong and sustained commitment to promoting STEM education as a national priority,” said James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition. “Our country's current and future economic prosperity and ability to innovate absolutely depend on a robust, high-quality STEM workforce. If we are to keep up with our global competitors, we must step up our nation's efforts to improve and encourage STEM education.”

President Obama has made science, technology, engineering and math education a key priority and has laid out an ambitious goal to move American students from the middle of the pack to the top of the pack internationally in science and math achievement over the next decade. Initiatives like Race to the Top and the “Educate to Innovate” campaign demonstrate the administration’s commitment to making sure Americans get the science and technology skills they need to fill the jobs of the future.

STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future is based on analysis to date from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Current Population Survey.  In this report, STEM jobs are defined to include professional and technical support occupations in the fields of computer science and mathematics, engineering, and life and physical sciences. The STEM occupation list contains 50 detailed occupation codes. A copy of the ESA report can be found on the ESA website here.