By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Science and technology jobs see better pay, job security and swelling growth opportunities in the coming decade, according to a new federal study released late last week.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) released a new report on Thursday that profiles U.S. employment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future offers an inside look at workers who are driving U.S. innovation and competitiveness with new ideas, new companies, and new industries.

From 2000 to 2010, STEM jobs grew 7.9 percent to 7.6 million (5.5 percent of the U.S. labor force) – three times the rate of other fields, according to the study. They’re expected to swell 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared with 9.8 percent for other jobs. Meanwhile, STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness.

“This report profiles the fast-growing, productive STEM workforce and illustrates how we can win the future by encouraging the pursuit of 21st century jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “STEM jobs are essential to a competitive, innovative, and technologically-advanced U.S. economy.”

Further findings show STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts. STEM degree holders also enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. Likewise, college graduates – no matter what their major – enjoy an earnings premium for having a STEM job.

“This report confirms what our research has repeatedly shown – that STEM-related jobs are solid, stable, lucrative, and more recession proof that those in many other sectors,” said Brooks Raiford, president and CEO of the North Carolina Technology Association. “It’s important to make sure that students across North Carolina, but especially in rural areas, have the education, training, and skills they need to make both them and their areas attractive to these employers who are trying their best to find qualified employees.”

In comparison to the average worker, STEM workers are highly educated. More than two-thirds of STEM workers, the report noted, have at least a college degree, compared to less than one-third of non-STEM workers.

STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future is based on analysis to date from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Current Population Survey. In this report, STEM jobs are defined to include professional and technical support occupations in the fields of computer science and mathematics, engineering, and life and physical sciences.

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