Brookings Study: Baltimore in Top 10 for STEM Jobs19 Jun 2013
A new study from the Brookings Institution finds that the Baltimore-Towson metro area is a STEM hotspot: it’s among the top ten places in the country with high demand for STEM knowledge. Baltimore ranked ninth in a field of heavy hitters like Silicon Valley – which ranked first – the Washington / Northern Virginia tech corridor (second), and the Boston / Cambridge area (eighth). [See The Hidden STEM Economy, by Jonathan Rothwell, Brookings Institution, June 2013.]
The Brookings study cites a litany of benefits that flow from having a high concentration of STEM workers in our local economy. First and foremost, individuals who work in STEM fields do better economically; but they also contribute to a healthier local economy generally, in the form of:
- More innovation
According to Brookings, “Greater STEM skills at the metro level are strongly associated with higher patents per worker (an indicator of innovation).
- Less unemployment
And “a lower rate of job losses during the recent recession and early recovery”
- More exports
As a share of GDP, which Brookings calls “a measure of international competitiveness”
- Higher incomes
Brookings finds, “The average worker living in the most STEM oriented metropolitan areas realizes an 11 percent boost in real wages compared with those living in the least STEM oriented metropolitan areas.”
The findings were part of a broader study of the STEM economy, one intended to look more closely at precisely what type of jobs should be defined as “STEM jobs.” According to Brookings, most previous studies suffer from a methodological blindness that only recognizes high-level STEM jobs, largely ignoring STEM positions that require less than a bachelor’s degree – jobs that are nonetheless critical to the health of a high-tech economy. Many studies, for example, don’t count technicians who install and repair high-tech equipment, because the work often does not require a BA or advanced degree.
Among other noteworthy findings:
- “As of 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs – 20 percent of all jobs – require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field.”
- “Half of all STEM jobs are available to workers without a four-year college degree, and these jobs pay $53,000 on average – a wage 10 percent higher than jobs with similar educational requirements.”
- “STEM jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree are highly clustered in certain metropolitan areas, while sub-bachelor’s STEM jobs are prevalent in every large metropolitan area.”
- “The presence of sub-bachelor’s degree STEM workers helps boost innovation measures one-fourth to one-half as much as bachelor’s degree STEM workers, holding other factors constant.”
The message for policymakers is clear: we need more STEM workers at ALL levels. This is not just good for the individual STEM workers, who tend to earn more – often significantly more – than their non-STEM counterparts; it’s also good for the economy as a whole, generating economic gains that benefit everyone. Think of this as yet another word to the wise, especially to those in Congress who are now considering immigration reform legislation: the benefits of STEM immigration are ripe for the picking, and there’s no time like the present!
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