Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Employment Projections for STEM, 2010-2020

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Although the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career cluster has received a lot of attention in the past decade because of its powerful impact on our economy, it is still one of the smallest clusters. STEM had about 3.2 million workers in 2010; only the Arts, A/V Technology, and Communications and Government and Public Administration clusters were smaller. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in STEM occupations will grow by 10 percent to 3.5 million in 2020.

Cluster Overview: Expectations for Change, 2010-2020
Most occupations in the STEM cluster are projected to grow at a moderate pace, about as fast as the average for all occupations nationwide. A few are projected to grow rapidly, each for different reasons. For example,
  • Continuing advances in medicine and demand for advanced medical care will bring more opportunities for Biomedical Engineers and Biochemists and Biophysicists;
  • The rapid development and spread of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology will boost demand for Geographers;
  • Continuing environmental concerns and the rising importance of wastewater treatment will spur demand for Environmental Engineers and Technicians; and 
  • Rising demand for data-based decision making in business, industry, and government will increase opportunities for Survey Researchers, Sociologists, Anthropologists, and other social scientists, particularly those with advanced statistical training.
The BLS anticipates the growth rate for a number of other of science and engineering occupations to be only moderate, despite the importance of these fields for our economy. Reasons for moderate growth vary. For example,
  • People trained in mathematics and statistics increasingly work in jobs with other titles, including logistician, market research analyst, and management consultant. Reliance on these skills is growing more rapidly than the number of people employed in jobs with these titles;
  • Some scientists, such as Atmospheric Scientists and Astronomers, work primarily in fields heavily reliant on government funding and pressure to reduce government expenditures will hold back hiring.
Finally, slow growth is predicted for some occupations.
  • Chemical and drug manufacturers are expected to move an increasing amount of their manufacturing and R&D work to other countries, further limiting domestic employment growth and reducing demand for Chemists and Chemical Technicians.
Additionally, in almost every case, the BLS projects slower growth for engineering technicians than for the professional engineers with whom they work. Although many fields, such as Health Science, are turning over increasing amounts of work to less-expensive paraprofessionals, the BLS does not project that this is happening in Engineering. It is not clear to me why they do not anticipate this kind of shift in this field.

Even though the BLS projects only moderate growth in STEM cluster occupations, STEM education is a good choice for students. Jobs in this cluster offer better than average wages, benefits, and security. And recent research has shown that STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. So, even students who don't ultimately go to work in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics job will benefit from studying these subjects.




Projections Data: What the BLS tells us about employment
Every two years the BLS releases new national employment projections for over 700 different occupations. The projections include five important pieces of information discussed in this post.
Estimated 2010 employment: The estimated number of jobs or positions in each occupation. (This is a count of positions, not workers; many people have two jobs).
Projected 2020 employment: The estimated number of jobs or positions in each occupation. (A count of positions, not workers; many people have two jobs).
Numeric Change 2010-2020 or "New Jobs:" Most occupations are expected grow by 2020 as employers  create new positions or "new jobs."
Percent Change 2010-2020: The percent increase or decrease in employment over the decade. This information helps us compare the rate of change across jobs of different sizes.
Job Openings 2010-2020: Job opportunities arise in two ways: when employers create new jobs and when workers retire or leave an occupation and need to be replaced by new hires. The BLS projects how many people will be retiring from each occupation over the decade and combines this with the number of new jobs to predict how many "job openings" will become available. Even shrinking occupations have job openings because employers  need to replace some of the people who retire with new workers.
Pathways Overview
The national system of career clusters divides STEM into just two pathways: Engineering and Technology, and Science and Mathematics. Under this system, most engineering occupations appear in other clusters with which they are closely associated, such as Agriculture or Manufacturing, and only the remainder are classified in STEM. In my analysis, I have brought all of the science and engineering occupations back into STEM. In this post, I also include mention of four mathematics and social science occupations that the national system classifies in the Government and Human Services clusters.
  • Engineering and Technology is the largest STEM pathway, employing almost 2.5 million people in 2010. Employment in this pathway is expected to grow more slowly than the national average at 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. Overall, the pathway is expected to have over 775,000 job openings, about 230,000 (or 30 percent) of which will be from new jobs. Civil, Mechanical, and Industrial Engineers are expected to account for about a third of all job openings in this pathway.
  • Science and Mathematics is a much smaller pathway with only 755,000 employees in 2010. It is projected to grow at about the national average between 2010 and 2020 to 852,000. Many of the job openings in this pathway will be replacement jobs from people retiring or leaving the industry; slightly less than 30% of all job openings in Science and Mathematics are expected to be from new jobs. The table below breaks out Science and Mathematics into three categories: Mathematics, Natural Science, and Social Science.

Pathways Employment Overview (in 1000s)


Pathways and Number of Occupations Included
Employment 2010Employment 2020Jobs AddedPercent ChangeJob openings,
Engineering and Technology (33)
2,459.3
2,688.7
229.1
9%
776.9
Science and Mathematics-Mathematics (4)
30.7
34.9
4.3
14%
22.7
Science and Mathematics-Natural Science (14)
398.2
448.9
50.8
13%
158.8
Science and Mathematics-Social
Science (12)
326.4
368.6
42.2
13%
144.1
Total
3,214.6
35,41.1
326.4
10%
1,102.5






Related occupations from other clusters




Economists
15.4
16.4
0.9
6.1
5.8
Statistical Assistants
16.6
17.6
1.0
6.0
4.1
Sociologists
4.0
4.8
0.7
18.1
1.8
Social Scientists and Related Workers, All Other
35.4
38.3
2.9
8.1
17.6

Job Openings and New Jobs
The BLS projects "job openings" for each occupation that arise from the combination of new jobs and the need to replace workers who retire. In total, the STEM cluster is expected to have 1.1 million job openings, about 326,000 of which will come from new jobs, while the rest will be replacement jobs opened up when workers retire or leave the occupation.

Seven of the top ten occupations with the most job openings are in Engineering.
  • Civil Engineers (104,400)
  • Mechanical Engineers (99,600)
  • Industrial Engineers (57,500)
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers (49,700)
  • Electrical Engineers (47,800)
  • Engineers, All Other (44,800) and,
  • Electronics Engineers, Except Computer (40,600)
All occupations in STEM are expected to grow between now and 2020, with the exception of Drafters, and Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians, which are projected to decline by 4% and 1.6% respectively.

The following graph shows the ten occupations expected to have the most job openings between now and 2020.





Complete Listing
The following table gives a complete picture of how STEM occupations are projected to change between 2010 and 2020. 

Employment Projections (in 1000s)

Pathways and Occupations IncludedEmployment 2010Employment 2020Numeric ChangePercent ChangeJob openings, 2010-20
Engineering and Technology
2,459
2,689
229
9%
776.9
Architectural and Engineering Managers
177
192
15
8.6
49.7
Aerospace Engineers
81
85
4
4.9
21.8
Agricultural Engineers
3
3
0
9.1
0.8
Biomedical Engineers
16
25
10
61.7
13.1
Chemical Engineers
30
32
2
5.9
11.4
Civil Engineers
263
314
51
19.4
104.4
Computer Hardware Engineers
70
76
6
9.0
22.9
Electrical Engineers
154
165
11
7.0
47.8
Electronics Engineers, Except Computer
140
147
7
4.9
40.6
Environmental Engineers
51
63
11
21.9
22.6
Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors
24
27
3
13.0
8.2
Industrial Engineers
204
217
13
6.4
57.5
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects
6
7
1
17.5
2.3
Materials Engineers
22
24
2
8.7
8.1
Mechanical Engineers
243
265
21
8.8
99.6
Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers
6
7
1
9.6
2.0
Nuclear Engineers
19
21
2
10.2
6.2
Petroleum Engineers
30
35
5
17.0
11.8
Engineers, All Other
157
167
10
6.6
44.8
Architectural and Civil Drafters
93
96
3
3.2
20.9
Electrical and Electronics Drafters
29
31
2
5.4
7.2
Mechanical Drafters
67
75
8
11.1
20.5
Drafters, All Other
16
15
(1)
-4.0
3.1
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
9
9
(0)
-1.6
1.7
Civil Engineering Technicians
79
89
9
12.0
24.6
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians
151
154
3
1.9
31.8
Electro-Mechanical Technicians
16
17
0
0.5
3.2
Environmental Engineering Technicians
19
23
5
24.3
8.2
Industrial Engineering Technicians
63
65
3
4.2
14.6
Mechanical Engineering Technicians
45
47
2
3.9
10.4
Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other
71
74
3
4.7
16.8
Surveying and Mapping Technicians
57
66
9
15.9
20.0
Technical Writers
50
58
9
17.2
18.3
Science and Mathematics-Mathematics
31
35
4
14%
22.7
Mathematicians
3
4
1
15.7
2.3
Statisticians
25
29
4
14.1
18.7
Mathematical Technicians
1
1
0
6.2
0.7
Mathematical Science Occupations, All Other
1
2
0
14.7
1.0
Science and Mathematics-Natural Science
398
449
51
13%
158.8
Biochemists and Biophysicists
25
33
8
30.8
13.4
Microbiologists
20
23
3
13.3
7.2
Biological Scientists, All Other
36
38
2
6.3
10.3
Conservation Scientists
23
25
1
5.2
4.0
Life Scientists, All Other
12
13
1
11.7
2.1
Astronomers
2
3
0
11.0
0.9
Physicists
18
21
3
14.2
8.0
Atmospheric and Space Scientists
10
10
1
10.6
2.1
Chemists
82
85
3
3.8
29.9
Materials Scientists
9
10
1
10.2
3.7
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health
89
106
17
18.7
43.2
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers
34
41
7
21.2
17.1
Hydrologists
8
9
1
17.8
3.6
Physical Scientists, All Other
30
33
3
8.5
13.3
Science and Mathematics-Social Science
326
369
42
13%
144.1
Computer and Information Research Scientists
28
34
5
18.7
10.6
Survey Researchers
20
24
5
24.1
9.9
Anthropologists and Archeologists
6
7
1
20.7
3.8
Geographers
2
2
1
35.4
1.3
Historians
4
5
1
17.9
2.4
Political Scientists
6
6
0
7.9
2.8
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
21
23
2
7.0
8.7
Biological Technicians
80
91
11
13.5
37.9
Chemical Technicians
61
65
4
6.7
12.9
Nuclear Technicians
7
8
1
13.5
3.3
Social Science Research Assistants
30
34
4
15.0
17.0
Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians, All Other
62
69
7
11.8
33.5
Related occupations from other clusters





Economists
15
16
1
6.1
5.8
Statistical Assistants
17
18
1
6.0
4.1
Sociologists
4
5
1
18.1
1.8
Social Scientists and Related Workers, All Other
35
38
3
8.1
17.6