Does the US have enough STEM trained people?

Most of the new jobs in the 21st century will be created in STEM industries – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  Yet according to many reports, America is falling behind in creating STEM jobs.

However, in his recent book, “Falling Behind: Boom, Bust & the Global Race for Scientific Talent”, Michael Teitelbaum (Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School) shows that the U.S. has been through at least five STEM-related cycles since World War II.  In each instance, alarms about a perceived shortage of STEM workers led to federal action to stimulate STEM research and education. But after the government’s stimulus ended, we were left with a surfeit of people with STEM degrees but no work commensurate with their training.

Far from “falling behind,” Teitelbaum shows that the U.S. currently has a surplus of people with STEM education. After surveying the research, he writes that America “produces far more science and engineering graduates annually than there are S&E job openings—the only disagreement is whether it is 100 percent or 200 percent more.”

Furthermore, interest groups that want more STEM education, research funding and workers know how to capitalize on that belief to get politicians to enact the policies they want. Even through there is nothing approaching a crisis, they keep lobbying as if we have a dire one.

In spite of this, the U.S. Department of Education has projected job growth in STEM – related fields from 2010-2020:

Mathematics – 16%

Computer systems Analyst 22%

Systems software developer 32%

Medical Scientist 36%

Biomedical engineer – 62%