Category Archives: STEM

Top Trending Areas of STEM

        STEM advocates for its four core categories to be taught together as related and interconnected fields, however not all areas within STEM are experiencing the same level of growth. As we covered in our article about the STEM labor shortage and surplus, STEM is not a monolith. Some areas of STEM are growing faster than others, and other areas are not growing at all.

        The current market for STEM is dominated by computer-related occupations, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted would be 71% of STEM careers by 2018. This is followed by engineering at only 16%, physical sciences at 7%, life sciences at 4%, and mathematics at 2%. According to the Department for Professional Employees (DPE), occupations related to computers and mathematics were driving growth from the years of 2005-2015, and accounted for 79.5% of STEM job growth in that decade. This disparity is best highlighted in this quote from DPE, “From 2005 to 2015, architecture and engineering occupations added 161,000 jobs while life, physical, and social science occupations added 129,000 jobs. At the same time, computer and mathematical occupations added 1,123,000 jobs.” That means computer and mathematical occupations added seven times the number of jobs as either science or engineering.

        However, even within fields, there is variation. During the same period of time DPE reports the computer programmers faced a 17.4% drop in employment. While the number of gains in engineering jobs was ultimately smaller than that of computer and mathematics related occupations, aerospace engineers hand a 53% increase in employment. Medical scientists also saw an increase in employment by 26%, which equates to 32,000 new jobs. Electrical engineers, drafters, biologists, and chemists all faced decreases in employment.

        When considering percent increases or percent decreases within a field, it is important to pay attention to the size of that field. For instance, through 2024, mathematics occupations are projected to grow the fastest with a percent growth rate of 28.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Within mathematics, statisticians are expected to be the fastest growing occupation as a growth rate of 33.8%. However, as mentioned above, mathematics was only projected to be about 2% of the current market. While mathematics related occupations have the highest percent growth rate, they are only the 4th highest in the projection of newly created jobs. Ultimately the percent growth rate will amount to only about 42,000 new jobs. The same is true of the field with the second highest growth rate, STEM-related postsecondary teachers. While their percent growth rate is around 13%, due to the small size of the field, this will make them the 5th largest job creator.

        So what field will net the most new jobs? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while computer occupations only have the third largest projected percent growth at 12.5%, this equates to nearly half a million new jobs by 2024. This is because, as mentioned above, computer related occupations make up the majority of the market. Applications software developers were the largest field within computer related occupations with over 700,000 workers. The only field within computer related occupations expected to decline, again, is computer programmers. Overall, computer related occupations are expected to add 5 times the number of new jobs as any other STEM field. When including pre-existing jobs that are looking for new employees due to retirement, etc., the number of job openings is predicted to reach over 1 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

        The second largest group in terms of new jobs added is engineering, with a total of 65,000 new jobs. Biomedical engineers are predicted to face the fastest percent growth within engineering, at 23.1%. Following that, mechanical engineers are projected to grow at nearly 20%, and civil engineers are supposed to grow by over 10%. While electrical engineers did decrease by 14% from the years of 2005-2015, there is an expected growth rate of over 10% by 2024.

        The only general fields expected to decline are drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians. Their percent decrease is 1.4%, accounting for about 9,600 jobs lost by 2024.

        The U.S. Department of Education predicted a 14% overall growth for STEM occupations by 2020. Within STEM, the department predicted major spikes in job growth in software, medical science, and biomedical engineering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 90% of entry-level STEM occupations require some higher education, with the vast majority requiring a bachelor’s degree. However, as covered in a previous article, job openings requiring PhD’s struggle the most in finding qualified applicants.

Different areas of STEM are growing at vastly different rates, and even within general fields of STEM, growth rates can vary. The demand for STEM labor will continue to increase as STEM becomes a larger part of our economy. It is important not only to observe the demand due to new job openings, but also the supply of applicants there to fill that demand. For more information, please check out our article on the STEM labor shortage.

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2017/science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-occupations-past-present-and-future/pdf/science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-occupations-past-present-and-future.pdf

https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/sei/edTool/data/workforce-03.html

https://www.livescience.com/43296-what-is-stem-education.html

https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/chart-which-stem-jobs-will-be-in.html

https://www.ed.gov/stem

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm

https://www.idtech.com/blog/futuristic-stem-jobs-and-career-list-for-students

https://www.collegechoice.net/50-highest-paying-careers-college-graduates/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/annapowers/2017/12/02/highest-paying-jobs-of-2017/#4e092de41c1e

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/09/these-are-the-25-best-paying-jobs-in-america-in-2018.html

https://www.trade-schools.net/articles/high-demand-jobs.asp


How STEM Applies to Everyday Life

STEM is an umbrella term for countless fields of study and occupations. With such a broad reach, it can be hard to grasp what exactly STEM is and why it matters. We can understand STEM as overarching school subjects, however breaking it down into more comprehensive categories and understanding how those categories affect our daily lives can feel like a monumental task. STEM is broad, but it is familiar. Everything from space shuttles to cell phones exist because of STEM.

How many STEM degrees are there? STEM Degree List lists over 400 potential degrees, with some overlap. It may be daunting to approach the plethora of possible degrees with their varied level of specificity, however they can be categorized in familiar ways. The ACT breaks up STEM majors into four categories: science, computer science and mathematics, medical and health sciences, and engineering and technology.

The field of science can further be broken up into life sciences (e.g. biology and psychology), physical sciences (e.g. chemistry and physics), and agricultural and environmental sciences (e.g. forestry and conservation sciences). Computer science and mathematics host many more familiar fields, including finance, computer programming, applied mathematics, and statistics. Medical and health sciences include dentistry, nursing, medicine, and veterinary degrees. Finally engineering and technology can be broken down into various forms and their technician counterparts, including aerospace, agricultural, architectural, biochemical, chemical, civil, structural, software, electrical, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum, systems, and manufacturing engineering.

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs. Within the reported 8.6 million jobs, 45% were in computer occupations, while 19% were in engineering. The remainder was made up by drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians; STEM-related management; STEM-related sales; life and physical science technicians; life scientists; physical scientists; STEM-related postsecondary teachers; architects, surveyors, and cartographers; and mathematical science occupations.

The largest STEM occupations by the same report were application software developers, computer user support specialists, computers systems analysts, systems software developers, network and computer systems managers, computer and information systems managers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives for technical and scientific products, computer programmers, mechanical engineers, and civil engineers.

How do all of these fields of study and occupations affect and apply to everyday life? “[Y]ou can imagine the impact of STEM on the economy just by looking at the companies and products revolutionizing our lives. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and on and on. STEM powers all of them,” ID Tech reports. STEM is everywhere and in everything we do. We have everything from blockchain to bridges because of STEM, and as the world grows increasingly advanced, an understanding of STEM becomes increasingly more beneficial, even to non-STEM workers.

According to the National Science Foundation, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”

STEM has given us a vast variety of what is important to modern day society. Modern medicine, medical screenings, dentistry, and so on all exist because of STEM work done in the past. Current research in the medical field, such as gene editing and searching for a cure to today’s harshest illnesses like cancer, will shape our future. With added emphasis on STEM in schools and society, it would be possible for the medical fields to advance more quickly than ever before.

Astronomy and astrophysics are other areas of interest. Humans landing on the moon would have seemed like a far-off future one hundred years ago, while today there are discussions of traveling to Mars and colonies off of our home planet. Within this field, we see one of the strengths of STEM: it is something everyone from every country can feel passionately towards and provides opportunities for collaboration between different nations. One of those collaborations, the International Space Station, has been orbiting our planet for over 20 years. Andrew Raupp from STEM.org says, “I think what STEM has done is create geopolitical balance between the East and West. […] Even in the times when we’ve had some [problems globally], STEM has really created some balance.”

STEM can be found in the cities and houses we live in, which are works of urban planning, civil engineering, architecture, and more. In schools, the addition of new technology like smart boards and slightly older technology, like school laptops and educational YouTube videos, are shaping today’s youth for a more technology-driven world. This understanding of technology will not only be important in the future, but is important in the present. CBS news reports that children from age 8 to age 18 spend 7+ hours on average looking at screens. For adults, that number jumps to nearly 11 hours as day, according to a CNN report. STEM is not only in our schools as subjects to be taught, it’s part of our homes, our work, and our daily lives. Even fields that may feel unrelated, like music, photography, and design, have some underpinnings in mathematics. An understanding of STEM is an understanding of the world as a whole.

However, there is a final way in which STEM affects us: it is a means to get to our future. Christopher Kennedy of STEM Teachers NYC said, “I think about some of the biggest challenges we’re facing – water, food and changes in technology – […] I think that’s one of the biggest applications of STEM, […] how do we move onto a [new] electrical grid, how do we think about water in a really careful way, how do we think of fire safety.”

There is not really a question of whether or not STEM applies to our daily lives because STEM is our daily lives, from the places we live to the food we eat. STEM has been a vital part of our past, is an increasingly relevant part of our present, and is an absolute necessity for our future.

The STEM Labor Shortage

There has been an ongoing debate on whether there is a STEM labor shortage or a STEM labor surplus. How is it that many graduates cannot find jobs while some jobs cannot find graduates to fill their open positions? To put it simply, it’s more complicated than a number of graduates or a number of open jobs.

STEM is not homogeneous; someone with a bachelor’s degree in biology cannot fill a position requiring a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, “Across all the different disciplines, yes, there is a STEM crisis, and no, there is no STEM crisis. It depends on how and where you look.” Let’s discuss where there are shortages and where there are surpluses.

The STEM Labor Shortage

STEM Connector reported in December 2017 that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled by 2018. This prediction represents part of a larger problem in the U.S. Due to the lack of qualified applicants, a large number of STEM jobs continue to go unfilled.

For example, the U.S. Department of Labor has reported that U.S. university graduates will likely only fill 29% of the 1.4 million job openings for computer specialists. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the United States would need to increase its yearly production of undergraduate STEM degrees by 34 percent over current rates to match the demand forecast for STEM professionals.”

This problem is not rooted in the number of applicants admitted to universities or staffing gaps at the university level, but rather due to the lack of students majoring in the STEM tracks that are experiencing shortages.

This gap in talent has affected several U.S. government agencies. The Air Force Personnel Center has gaps in several fields, such as electrical engineering, physics, and nuclear engineering. They specifically need people with higher degrees in these and a few other fields. The Aeronautical Systems Center reports similar shortages in software engineering, manufacturing engineering, and so on.

Other U.S. government agencies report a high number of open positions in systems engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and cybersecurity. These agencies all seem to share a similar struggle – there are not enough U.S. citizens with advanced degrees in these fields.

Within the private sector, software engineers with hands-on experience through internships, extracurricular, etc. are in high demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jobs in petroleum engineering are also growing. There’s a growing demand in some careers below the bachelor’s degree level as well. There have been reported shortages in many technical positions for qualified applicants, such as machinists, operators, technicians, and so on.

Location also matters: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in a different publication from July 2017 that California-Lexington Park, Maryland, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, Boulder, Colorado, and Huntsville, Alabama had the highest percentage of STEM employment in May 2016. California trended towards computer hardware engineers and software developers.

This problem extends to STEM teachers. Christopher Kennedy from STEM Teachers NYC, an organization dedicated to “addressing a STEM teacher crisis” in New York City, says of New York City public schools, “We’re the largest school system in the U.S., and there’s unfortunately not a lot of science teachers […] we’re only finding 15-20% of students have access to physics, or like 50-60% have access to chemistry.” Without adequate science education at the middle and high school levels, there is little hope of addressing the shortages we currently face.

The 4th annual survey by Emerson reports that “2 in 5 Americans Believe the STEM Worker Shortage is at Crisis Levels”, that is to say, a good portion of America believes that the STEM labor shortage has reached a level that will cause major issues in the future. “They just can’t find enough people to help out,” says Christopher Kennedy, in a discussion about engineering projects that need to be done on infrastructure, “Unfortunately, these projects get delayed and these engineering works – they fail.” The ramifications of STEM labor shortages as we see them now are the possible failure of key infrastructure in the future. Without a steady supply of qualified applicants to fill jobs, new problems will arise that affect the daily lives of the average American.

However, the problems will not stop with infrastructure. STEM is vital to the economy and global position of the U.S. According to the National Academy of the Sciences, “The future competitiveness of the United States in an increasingly interconnected global economy depends on the nation fostering a workforce with strong capabilities and skills in STEM.”

The STEM Labor Surplus     

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 74% of citizens who hold a bachelor’s degree in STEM don’t work in a STEM occupation. How could that be when there are the previously mentioned shortages? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The demand and supply of STEM workers vary by market and location […] The demand for workers with doctorates in mechanical engineering is different from the demand for those with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering, and the supply of workers with doctorates in the biomedical sciences is different from the supply of those with doctorates in physics.” In short, whether there is a shortage or a surplus depends on what field, where, and how qualified the applicants are.

That means it’s important to pay attention to what areas within STEM are adding new jobs and growing versus which areas are experiencing a surplus. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a surplus of STEM college professors, especially in the fields like biology. “Chemistry and biomedical graduates also have taken a hard hit, due to the downsizing and offshoring of biotechnology, chemical, and pharmaceutical jobs. Since 2000, U.S. pharmaceutical companies have cut 300,000 jobs,” the Bureau goes on to say.

One of the biggest challenges we face in managing the shortages and surpluses, however, comes in a simple fact: we do not know what jobs will exist in the future. According to STEM Connector, “Estimates suggest that 65 percent of children entering elementary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that are not on our radar yet.” The students of today are ultimately being prepared for jobs that we do not know about. Who, in the year 2000, would have been able to plan to one day work in app development or cryptocurrency, when neither existed yet? The careers we see today do not reflect those that will exist ten or twenty years for now, so to mitigate future STEM shortages, we need to prepare the students of today with a solid background in STEM.

So, is there a STEM labor shortage or surplus? In the words of the National Science Foundation in 2016, “Close study…reveals that there is no straightforward “yes” or “no” answer to whether the United States has a surplus or shortage of STEM workers. The answer is always “it depends.” It depends on which segment of the workforce is being discussed and where. It also depends on whether “enough” or “not enough STEM workers” is being understood in terms of the quantity of workers; the quality of workers in terms of education or job training; racial, ethnic or gender diversity, or some combination of these considerations.” There is both a STEM labor shortage and a STEM labor surplus.

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2015/article/stem-crisis-or-stem-surplus-yes-and-yes.htm

https://www.stemconnector.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/64199_Web.pdf

https://www.idtech.com/blog/stem-education-statistics

https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2017/science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-occupations-past-present-and-future/home.htm

https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/8-point-8-million-science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-jobs-in-may-2016.htm?view_full

https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/publications/2015/nsb201510.pdf

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/21900/developing-a-national-stem-workforce-strategy-a-workshop-summary

https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2017/demo/education-attainment/cps-detailed-tables.html

https://www.hays.com.au/hays-journal/HAYS_1309278

https://ssec.si.edu/stem-imperative

https://www.forbes.com/sites/arthurherman/2018/09/10/americas-high-tech-stem-crisis/#4d9db3b6f0a2

https://cis.org/Panel-Transcript-There-STEM-Worker-Shortage

https://www.industryweek.com/talent/2-5-americans-say-stem-worker-shortage-crisis-levels

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/23/why-we-have-a-shortage-of-tech-workers-in-the-u-s.html

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2018-08-23/americans-think-they-have-a-shortage-of-stem-workers

https://www.emerson.com/en-us/news/corporate/2018-stem-survey

How the U.S. Is Encouraging STEM Education

It’s been a decade since President Barack Obama launched his 2009 “Educate to Innovate” Campaign and in December 2018, President Donald Trump released his own plans for continuing STEM education. While the approach of political parties towards STEM education may differ, there is a resounding agreement that STEM education is important for today’s students.

According to STEM.org founder and executive director Andrew Raupp, “there are obviously a lot of criticisms, but what I will say is there’s been a lot of coordination across the aisle. It’s one of the few politically neutral topics. […] When it comes to STEM, there seems to be a consensus that its important. So, we are seeing funding towards STEM, some from the private sector, so we’re seeing over $250 million in funding. So, it’s really a public-private collaboration.”

President Obama launched his “Educate to Innovate” campaign in November 2009 with three main goals: increasing STEM literacy, improving the quality of math and science education, and expanding access to STEM education and careers for underrepresented groups. At the time, the U.S. scored 14th in math and 12th in science according the OECD’s PISA report. The Obama administration sought to get American students from the “middle of the pack” to the top by motivating them to excel in STEM courses.

At the Third Annual White House Science Fair in April 2013, President Obama said, “One of the things that I’ve been focused on as President is how we create an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math… We need to make this a priority to train an army of new teachers in these subject areas, and to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve.”

“Educate to Innovate” didn’t just focus on how the government could help students excel. The Obama White House Archive reports, “This campaign includes the efforts not only of the Federal Government, but also of leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies who have come forward to answer the President’s call for all-hands-on deck.” There was a call-to-arms, so to speak, for private companies to take part in the growing STEM education market. During its term, the campaign collected over $700 million in public-private partnerships and over 100 CEOs were recruited to take part. The campaign also emphasized the importance of teacher training, with a goal of preparing 100,000 new STEM teachers over the following decade.

In September 2010, the campaign was augmented by the launch of Change the Equation, a non-profit with the goal of “mobilizing the business community to improve the quality if STEM education in the United States” through the creation of privately-funded school programs, according to the archive. “Change the Equation was founded by astronaut Sally Ride, former Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, and Eastman Kodak CEO Antonio Perez, with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York,” the archive goes on to say.

Even after the Obama administration came to an end and the Trump administration began, STEM education remained a large bipartisan issue across the nation. In September 2017, the White House reported that President Trump had “signed a Presidential Memorandum expanding access to high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Computer Science education to K-12 students.” The Presidential Memorandum called for $200 million per year in grants for STEM education in schools, with an emphasis on STEM’s importance in finding stable work in the future. President Trump was quoted saying, “we will help give our children a pathway to success in the workforce of tomorrow.”

The Trump administration did not release a STEM education plan until over a year later. In December 2018, the Trump White House released a report titled “Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education”, which outlined the administration’s five-year plan for STEM education in the U.S. U.S. News reported, “The administration’s goal is threefold: for every American to master basic STEM concepts, like computational thinking, in order to respond to technological change; to increase access to STEM among historically underserved students; and to encourage students to pursue STEM careers.”

        According to Education Dive, “The strategy relies on four pathways: developing strategic partnerships between educational institutions, employers and the community; engaging students in trans-disciplinary activities to promote innovation; building computational literacy, and operating with transparency and accountability.” This involves the expansion of STEM internships and apprenticeships amongst students, recruitment and support of STEM educators, sharing STEM curriculum materials, and distance-learning support for rural students.

The report says, “all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education and the United States will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment.” Much like the previous administration, there still seems to be concern about where Americans rank in comparison to the rest of the world on STEM education. There is also a continued focus on beginning STEM education at an early age. According to the report “[b]asic STEM concepts are best learned at an early age—in elementary and secondary school—because they are the essential prerequisites to career technical training, to advanced college-level and graduate study, and to increasing one’s technical skills in the workplace. Increasing the overall digital literacy of Americans and enhancing the STEM workforce will necessarily involve the entire U.S. STEM enterprise.”

        However, STEM education in the U.S. is not limited to the government. As mentioned above, both administrations have called for public-private collaboration. One such collaboration is the Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM). CoSTEM is an Obama-era committee comprised of 13 agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. The committee is focused on investing federal funds in K-12 STEM education, increasing youth engagement in STEM, improving the STEM experience for undergraduates, demographics in STEM fields, and improving graduate education for the STEM workforce.

        There are also many independent organizations that work towards education in STEM, both of the regional and national variety. STEM.org, for instance, is an organization focused on global STEM education. Andrew Raupp, the founder of the website, says of the organization, “We’ve really transitioned over the years. What’s really important to us […] is the democratization of STEM education. Making it affordable to everyone, making it accessible to everyone.” How do they intend to achieve this goal? He went on to say, “What we will continue to do is digitize our technology and continue to look for foundations to support,” and “[l]ooking back and understanding the history of STEM is how we’re able to look ahead.”         Since the American education system varied from state to state, there are also regional organizations working with communities. Christopher Kennedy of STEM Teachers NYC puts it as, “There’s 50 states and 50 different plans.” His organization focuses on teacher training and the STEM teacher shortage in New York City. Another program he highlights is “CS for All”, which focuses on bringing computer science into the classroom.

Sources:

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/issues/education/k-12/educate-innovate

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/16/president-obama-announce-major-expansion-educate-innovate-campaign-impro

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-launches-educate-innovate-campaign-excellence-science-technology-en

https://www.nsf.gov/attachments/117803/public/3a–Change_Equation.pdf

https://www.ed.gov/stem

https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/president-trump-signs-memorandum-stem-education-funding/

https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2018-12-03/white-house-outlines-five-year-stem-push

https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2018/12/trump-education-STEM-White-House.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/STEM-Education-Strategic-Plan-2018.pdf

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/12/trump-emphasizes-workforce-training-new-vision-stem-education?r3f_986=https://www.google.com/

https://www.educationdive.com/news/white-house-releases-five-year-stem-education-strategy/543540/

https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2017-09-25/trump-calls-for-200m-a-year-to-boost-stem-in-schools

https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/america-will-win-global-competition-stem-talent/

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/world-education-rankings-maths-science-reading

The U.S. STEM Market

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 “[93] 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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