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July 30, 2014

STEM Workforce Looks Well-Stocked to This Group

Is there really a STEM worker shortage? That’s the question asked by a new analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports stricter immigration controls. Its answer is no.

In its conclusion, the analysis — which “draws  primarily on the public-use files of the American Community Survey (ACS) collected by the Census Bureau and to a lesser extent on the Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS)” — states:

We find no evidence of a general shortage of STEM workers. In 2012, there were more than twice as many people with STEM degrees (immigrant and native) as there were STEM jobs — 5.3 million STEM jobs vs. 12.1 million STEM degrees. Only one-third of natives who have a STEM degree and hold a job do so in a STEM occupation.

CIS also used compensation as a gauge:

Perhaps more important, real wages for almost all categories of STEM workers have shown only modest growth — both hourly and annual — for more than a decade. None of this is consistent with the idea that STEM workers are in short supply.

The CIS report comes on the heels of a piece by Harvard Law School’s Michael S. Teitelbaum in The Atlantic that makes a similar argument.

In contrast, Jeff Neal at ICF International writes in Federal Times: “The government’s increasing demand for STEM talent is not going to go away, nor is the increasing demand for STEM talent in the private sector. Unfortunately the supply is not keeping up with demand.”

Neal goes on to write: “The number of STEM graduates might lead one to believe we have an abundance of STEM workers, but graduates and the number of people in the STEM labor pool are different. Many people get STEM degrees, but decide to pursue other careers or drop out of the workforce entirely.”

Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke touched on the idea of mismatches between the available workers and open jobs at a Joint Economic Committee hearing last year:

And since research, development and technological progress are the engines of long-term growth, I think that as a country we need to think about our policies in that area and try to do what we can to address shortages of STEM workers, mismatches; assure that talented people from all over the world can come to the United States and participate in technical innovation.

CIS ultimately ties its argument about STEM jobs to its broader stance about immigrant workers diluting the U.S. workforce:

By allowing in many more immigrants than the labor market has been able to absorb, Congress is almost certainly holding down wage growth and reducing the incentive for native-born Americans to undertake the challenging course work that is often necessary for STEM careers.

  • RMGH

    The best way to determine if there is TRUELY a STEM shortage is to look at salaries and perks being offered to new employees. Are companies and academia clawing after talent raising salaries higher and higher? Are they offering sign-on bonuses? Are they offering generous perks like free education for master’s or doctoral level work? If there is truly a shortage, a good employee’s age should not matter. Are people over 50 still employable?

    The answer to all of these questions for 95% of STEM fields is a resounding “NO!” The evidence points to a glut not a shortage.

    The fact is that industry and academia love to bang the science/tech shortage drums to keep these fields glutted. They need to do this for two reasons: If they claim there is a shortage, they can justify more H1-B visas. We don’t NEED any more foreign workers and some who are here have taken away American jobs. The other reason…gluts keep workers in their place and salaries nice and low. Gluts are as great for business as they are terrible for employees.

    • maraba1

      Absolutely correct… Ther emay be small % of people who are getting raises – the rest are stagnating because of this glut. There is NO shortage and we need to fight this nonsense about shortage with whatever little means we have – save US!

  • Mr. Sequel

    There is no virtue in further condemning the children of these united states further into the hock of hostile foreign creditors.

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