Chapter 8: State Indicators


Chapter Overview

In response to increasing interest in both the policy and research communities about the role of science and technology (S&T) in state and regional economic development, a new experimental chapter devoted to the subject was introduced in the 2004 edition of Science and Engineering Indicators. This chapter has been expanded in the 2006 edition from the original 24 state indicators to 42.

The chapter focuses on the performance of individual states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Although data for Puerto Rico are reported whenever available, they frequently were collected by a different source, making it unclear whether the methodology used for data collection and analysis is comparable with that used for the states. For this reason, Puerto Rico was neither ranked with the states nor assigned a quartile value that could be displayed on the maps. Including data for U.S. territories and protectorates, such as American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Virgin Islands, was considered; however, data for these areas were available only on a sporadic basis and for fewer than one-quarter of the indicators, so they were not included.

These indicators are designed to present information about various aspects of state S&T infrastructure and to stimulate discussion about appropriate uses of state-level S&T indicators. The data used to calculate the indicators were gathered from both public and private sources. Whenever possible, data covering a 10-year span are provided to identify meaningful trends. However, because consistent data were not always available for the 10-year period, data for certain indicators are given only for the years in which comparisons are appropriate.

Ready access to accurate and timely information is an important tool for formulating effective S&T policies at the state level. By studying the programs and performance of their peers, state policymakers may be able to better assess and enhance their own programs and performance. The tables are intended to give the user a convenient listing of some of the quantitative data that may be relevant to technology-based economic development. In addition to describing the behavior of an indicator, the “Findings” section frequently presents an interpretation of the behavior’s relevance and meaning. The interpretation is sometimes speculative, with the objective of motivating further thought and discussion.

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Types of Indicators

Forty-two indicators are included in this chapter and grouped into the following areas:

Elementary and Secondary Education

Higher Education


Financial Research and Development Inputs

Research and Development Outputs

Science and Technology in the Economy

The first two areas address state educational attainment. In this edition of Indicators, emphasis has been increased on the science and mathematics skills students develop at the elementary and middle school levels. Student achievement is expressed in terms of performance, which refers to the average state score on a standardized test, and proficiency, which is expressed as the percentage of students who have achieved at least the expected level of competence on the standardized test. Other indicators in educational attainment focus on state spending, student costs, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and engineering.

Workforce indicators focus on the level of S&E training in the employed labor force. These indicators reflect the higher education level of the labor force and the degree of specialization in S&E disciplines and occupations.

Financial indicators address the sources and level of funding for R&D. They show how much R&D is being performed relative to the size of a state’s business base. Comparison of these indicators illustrates the extent to which R&D is conducted by industrial or academic performers.

The final two sections provide measures of outputs. The first focuses on the work products of the academic community and includes the production of new doctorate holders, the publication of academic articles, and patent activity both from the academic community and from all sources in the state.

The second section of output indicators examines the robustness of a region’s S&T activity. These indicators include venture capital activity, Small Business Innovation Research awards, and high-technology business activity. Although data that adequately address both the quantity and quality of R&D results are difficult to find, these indicators offer a reasonable information base.

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Data Sources and Considerations

Raw data for each indicator are presented in the tables. The first entry in each table represents the average value for the states. For most indicators, the state average was calculated by summing the values for the 50 states and the District of Columbia for both the numerator and the denominator and then dividing the two. Any alternate approach is indicated in the notes at the bottom of the table.

The values for most indicators are expressed as ratios or percentages to remove the effect of state size and facilitate comparison between large and small states or heavily and sparsely populated states. For example, an indicator of higher education achievement is not defined as the absolute number of degrees conferred in a state because sparsely populated states are neither likely to have nor need as extensive a higher education system as states with larger populations. Instead, the indicator is defined as the number of degrees per number of residents in the college-age cohort, which measures the intensity of educational services relative to the size of the resident population.

No official list of high-technology industries or sanctioned methodology to identify the most technology-intensive industries exists in the United States. The definition used here was developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration in concert with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. See "Technical Note: Defining High-Technology Industries."

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Key Elements for Indicators

Six key elements are provided for each indicator. The first element is a map that is color-coded to show in which quartile each state placed on that indicator for the latest year that data are available. This helps the reader quickly grasp geographic trends. The sample map below shows the outline of each state. On the indicator maps, the darkest color indicates states ranking in the first or highest quartile, and white indicates states ranking in the fourth or lowest quartile. Cross-hatching indicates states for which no data are available.

The second element is a quartiles table. States are listed alphabetically by quartile. The range of indicator values for that quartile is shown at the top of the column. Ties at quartile breaks were resolved by moving the tied states into one quartile. All of the indicators are broad measures, and several rely on sample estimates that have a margin of error. Small differences in state values generally carry little useful information.

The third element is a short citation for the data source. The full citation appears under each data table.

The fourth element is a summary of findings that includes the national average and comments on trends and patterns for the particular indicator. Although most of the findings are directly related to the data, some represent interpretations that are meant to stimulate further investigation and discussion.

The fifth element is a description of the indicator, a brief note about the nature of the data, and other information pertaining to the data.

The final element is the data table. Up to 3 years of data and the calculated values of the indicator are presented for each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is included in the data table only when data are available.

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Map of US showing states.

     AK........ Alaska      KY........ Kentucky      NY........ New York
     AL........ Alabama      LA........ Louisiana      OH........ Ohio
     AR........ Arkansas      MA....... Massachusetts      OK........ Oklahoma
     AZ........ Arizona      MD....... Maryland      OR........ Oregon
     CA........ California      ME........ Maine      PA......... Pennsylvania
     CO....... Colorado      MI......... Michigan      RI.......... Rhode Island
     CT........ Connecticut      MN........ Minnesota      SC........ South Carolina
     DC....... District of Columbia      MO....... Missouri      SD........ South Dakota
     DE........ Delaware      MS........ Mississippi      TN........ Tennessee
     FL.......... Florida      MT........ Montana      TX......... Texas
     GA....... Georgia      NC........ North Carolina      UT........ Utah
     HI......... Hawaii      ND........ North Dakota      VA......... Virginia
     IA......... Iowa      NE........ Nebraska      VT......... Vermont
     ID......... Idaho      NH........ New Hampshire      WA........ Washington
     IL.......... Illinois      NJ........ New Jersey      WI......... Wisconsin
     IN......... Indiana      NM....... New Mexico      WV........ West Virginia
     KS........ Kansas      NV........ Nevada      WY....... Wyoming

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National Science Board.