Washington, D.C. – A new report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), Chaired by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) finds that the American labor force has a shortage of skilled workers in the science and technological fields. This shortage could have serious repercussions as these fields drive productivity and innovation which further aides in strengthening American competitiveness.
The report entitled, “STEM Education: Preparing for the Jobs of the Future,” examines how the void of these careers in today’s workforce can be attributed in part to a lack of sustained educational resources of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields in schools across the country.
The demand for STEM workers is projected to rise in the future further illustrating the need for more workers to obtain the knowledge and skills associated with these careers. A survey of manufacturers concluded that one-third were experiencing shortages of engineers and scientists even at the height of the recession.
STEM workers on average experience lower unemployment rates and higher wages due to their strong demand. The unemployment rate for STEM workers peaked at only 5.5 percent in 2009 while the rate for non-STEM occupations continued to climb to 10 percent in 2010. STEM workers earned an average 26 percent higher salary than their non-STEM counterparts.
“As our economy continues to recover, STEM jobs represent a significant opportunity for economic growth,” Said Chairman Casey. “One of the best things Congress and state and local governments can do to help our economy is invest in growth areas like STEM education. These are the jobs of the future that will boost wages for working families.”
Women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM labor force. While the trend of women receiving post-secondary degrees and comprising the workforce has increased over time, very few are pursuing STEM fields. Only 14 percent of engineers are female and just 27 percent work in computer or math related occupations. African-American and Hispanic workers only account for six percent of STEM workers but 11 to 14 percent of the overall labor force respectively.