RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Charlotte shot to the top of the RCLCO Real Estate Advisors 2020 STEM Job Growth Index (STEMdex), which bodes well for future growth and recovery from the Covid pandemic, according to the report.  Raleigh was number five among the top ten metro area rankings.

The STEMdex tracks STEM job growth momentum through an analysis of the 38 largest metropolitan areas in the country. The STEMdex seeks to understand not only where STEM jobs are now, but also where they might be going in the future based on changing local economies, migration of young households and other key factors.

Both Charlotte and Raleigh have been consistent members of the top 10 over each of the last four reports.

In the rankings, Orlando and Portland are in the top 10 for the first time. Indianapolis, Tampa and San Antonio appear on the list for the first time based on growth dynamics, cost and quality of living factors. Dallas and Houston moved down.

The goal is to help real estate investors, policymakers and local governments understand which geographic areas and job categories will play the largest role in economic growth in the coming decades.

STEM jobs vital to a region’s economic growth

“Quality of life, favorable cost of doing business, and strong job markets – especially STEM jobs – are the leading indicators for healthy investment markets,” said Adam Ducker, senior managing director of RCLCO in a statement.

RCLCO graphic

“Understanding where these jobs exist today and where they may concentrate tomorrow is essential to decision makers and real estate investors, as STEM jobs will likely play an even more significant role in economic growth in a post-COVID world. We would expect to see regions with more STEM jobs recover from this recession much faster than regions whose jobs are more concentrated in affected industries.”

Vital to a region’s economic growth, STEM jobs, which include job types encompassing science, technology, engineering and math, pay an average of $84,480 compared to $37,020 for non-STEM occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts STEM jobs to grow at a rate of over 76% higher than non-STEM job growth nationwide.

The severe economic impacts of COVID-19 have caused the United States to enter a recession, effectively ending the longest economic expansion the country has ever seen.

However, STEM jobs, with historically lower rates of unemployment and higher wages, may prove to be more resilient. Many STEM-related jobs are better-equipped to transition toward remote working environments. Additionally, some STEM jobs, particularly those related to public health, may even see a renewed importance as we enter a post-COVID economy, the RCLCO report says.

What’s the jobs breakdown?

“Over 70% requiring a bachelor’s degree as a minimum level of educational attainment, compared to 21% of the overall job market,” the report says.

“The fastest growing STEM jobs are statisticians, research analysts, cartographers, and biomedical engineers, which all require extensive educational achievements to perform. However, there has also been significant growth in STEM jobs that do not necessarily require significant educational attainment, such as web developers, computer support specialists, and petroleum technicians.”

The report notes that some “50% of STEM jobs are explicitly computer-related, including computer and information systems management, programmers, software developers, and other computer support specialists.” For the other 50%, “mathematical, engineering, life and physical science, and social science occupations comprise the other half of STEM jobs.”