The market for STEM fields in the U.S., and globally, is an ever-growing and changing landscape.
According to Live Science, the field of cloud computing alone added 1.7 million new jobs between 2011 and 2015. STEM occupations overall have a lower unemployment rate than the national average, according to the Department for Professional Employees (DPE).
Moreover, in 2015 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported “ out of 100 STEM occupations had wages above the national average.” From this we can conclude that STEM jobs are increasing, employment is steady, and wages are high. The STEM market is profitable, thriving, and growing.
In recovery from the 2008 recession, occupations within technology and mathematics added 838,000 jobs from 2010 to 2015, meanwhile architecture and engineering created 335,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
This represents a growth of 12.8% for architecture and engineering, and exceeds the number of jobs lost in the recession by 35,000. This growth has continued in more recent years.
“In 2015, computer and mathematical occupations employed 4,369,000 workers, while architecture and engineering occupations employed 2,954,000 workers and 1,404,000 professionals were employed in life, physical, and social science occupations.
Together they accounted for 15.1 percent of the professional labor force and 5.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce,” reports DPE via information given by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
STEM accounts for a large portion of the U.S. workforce, and that portion is only growing.
STEM fields are growing faster than non-STEM fields as well.
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said, “Employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, or 817,260 jobs, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2 percent net growth in non-STEM occupations.”
In more recent years, the U.S. Department of Commerce has found that STEM occupations are growing at a rate of 17% while other occupations are growing at a rate of 9.8%. STEM Connect further reports that there are 2.5 entry-level STEM jobs per every STEM bachelor’s degree recipient.
Pew Research Center studied the growth of the STEM market over the past 30 years, reporting, “Employment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth.”
As mentioned above, STEM occupations have a lower unemployment rate than the national average. According to All Together, unemployment rates for STEM graduates was 3.8% as of December 2017. This is significantly lower than the unemployment rates of the full U.S. labor force, which resided around 8.1% at the same time. It’s even lower than the unemployment rate of non-STEM graduates, which was 4.3%.
So, STEM is growing faster than other sectors of our economy, but what fields are expected to see the most job growth? Within STEM, the field of technology is growing the fastest, with a projected growth of 12.5% from the years of 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This would account for nearly half a million newly created jobs. The second largest job creator, engineering, within the same time span is not expected to produce even one seventh of that, at only 65,000 projected new jobs.
There is however variation across the U.S. in STEM employment. California, for instance, holds 13% of the U.S. STEM workforce, which accounts for just over one million jobs. According to DPE, “Washington, D.C. has more than two times the concentration of STEM jobs than the national average.” So where are the best places to be a STEM worker?
Likely around two major national laboratories for the Department of Energy in Los Alamos, New Mexico and Butte, Idaho.
However, the benefits of the STEM market don’t end with quick job growth. As mentioned above, STEM occupations tend toward higher wages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, “Industries with higher shares of STEM occupations typically had higher wages.
STEM occupations made up over one-third of employment in professional, scientific, and technical services, which includes activities like computer systems design, engineering services, and research and development services. This industry also had one of the highest average wages, $77,570 across all occupations.
Information ($70,440), utilities ($73,100), and management of companies and enterprises ($79,600) also had both high overall average wages and high shares of STEM employment.
The industries with the lowest shares of STEM employment had among the lowest average wages: retail trade ($31,280) and accommodation and food services ($24,340).”
Therefore, simply having a higher share of STEM occupations within an industry raises the average wage of that industry.
This variation isn’t caused exclusively by education level. While it is true that 73% of professionals in STEM occupations held a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016 (this number jumps to 89% for engineers), Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reported in 2014 that 65% of STEM workers with a bachelor’s degree earned more than non-STEM master’s degree holders. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, entry level STEM jobs that require a bachelor’s degree have a salary 26% higher than entry-level non-STEM occupations requiring the same education level.
This all accounts for a higher than average median hourly wage and/or annual salary for STEM occupations. Change the Equation reports that the median hourly wage for STEM jobs is $38.86, compared to non-STEM jobs, which have a median salary of $19.30. As for annual salary, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the national average salary in non-STEM fields is $45,700, meanwhile within STEM it jumps to $87,570.
Within STEM, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wages in 2015 were as follows: for occupations within the fields of math and technology, $87,170; for engineers, $78,490-$149,590, depending on the branch of engineering; and for the sciences, $71,220.
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