Although workers with science and engineering skills make up only
a small fraction of the total U.S. civilian labor force, their impact
on society belies their numbers. These workers contribute enormously
to technological innovation and economic growth, research, and increased
knowledge. Workers with S&E skills include technicians and technologists,
researchers, educators, and managers. In addition, there are many
others with S&E training who use their skills in a variety of
nominally non-S&E occupations (such as writers, financial managers,
paralegals) and many niches in the labor market where the need to
interpret and use S&E knowledge is key.
This chapter has four major sections. First is a general profile
of the S&E labor force. This includes the demographic characteristics
(population size, gender, and race/ethnicity) of the S&E labor
force. It also covers educational backgrounds, earnings, places
of employment, occupations, and whether the S&E labor force
makes use of S&E training. Much of the data in this section
in available only through 1999 due to the temporary discontinuation
of the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) of the National
Science Foundation (NSF), which is the central part of NSF's Scientists
and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) data system on scientists
Second is a look at the labor market conditions for recent S&E
graduatesgraduates whose labor market outcomes are most sensitive
to labor market conditions. For recent S&E doctoral degree recipients,
the special topics of academic employment and postdoctoral appointments
(hereafter referred to by the colloquial term postdocs) are
Third is the age and retirement profile of the S&E labor force.
This is key to gaining insights into the possible future structure
and size of the S&E educated population.
The last section focuses on the global S&E labor forceboth
its growth abroad and the importance of the international migration
of scientists and engineers to the United States and the world.