Ours to Lose: STEM Jobs are Strong, But Need Policy Support to Grow

Ours to Lose: STEM Jobs are Strong, But Need Policy Support to Grow

07.18.11 | By Kate Connors

As we discuss the importance of jobs in the biopharmaceutical sector, and the dangers of policies that would ultimately lead to loss of these jobs, it's worth taking a moment to look at what these jobs really mean.
As the Battelle report showed us, jobs within the sector support many other jobs outside the sector, many of which may not be what you'd expect, like day care centers and truck drivers.
But, at the heart of the industry we find STEM jobs - science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Unfortunately, recent years have seen the U.S. losing ground in the field of STEM education, as countries such as China and India have made great strides in encouraging STEM education at all levels and we just haven't kept up (the Council for American Medical Innovation's Gone Tomorrow report has some worthwhile thoughts on STEM education).
A new report from the U.S. Commerce Department, STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future, looks at why we need to renew our emphasis on STEM education: because the jobs are worth saving.
The report found, for example, that in 2010, there were 7.6 million workers employed in STEM jobs, representing a remarkable one out of 18 jobs in the U.S. And in the last 10 years, including the economic slowdown, STEM jobs grew at a rate three times greater than non-STEM jobs. STEM workers are also less likely to face unemployment.
These jobs are also highly prized, earning 26 percent more in wages than non-STEM workers.
And, most important as we move toward America's economic rebound, these jobs are expected to grow at a higher rate than non-STEM jobs: by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth.
Many of these STEM workers are employed in the life sciences sectors, including biopharmaceutical research. So while our policymakers encourage STEM education growth - including President Obama, who has made it a national priority - it's just as important that they support the industries that will be hiring these workers and driving future U.S. economic competitiveness, not imposing damaging policies, such as Medicare Part D rebates, that could ultimately lead to loss of those high-value jobs.

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