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Highest Proportion of Science, Engineering, Tech and Math Jobs in D.C.


The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce report on jobs in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) finds that positions in those fields will grow faster than jobs in other fields through 2018.

October 20, 2011 – Washington, D.C., is the city with the highest proportion in the nation of jobs in science, engineering, technology and math, according to a new report by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW).

While California has the highest number of actual jobs in the so-called “STEM” fields, Washington has more of these kinds of positions in proportion to its other jobs. States with the fastest rates of growth in these fields are Virginia, Nevada and Utah.

“The industry profile of D.C. explains why D.C. has so many more STEM workers,” says CEW director and lead author Anthony Carnevale. “It has the highest concentration of professional and business service workers, an industry that has a high proportion of STEM talent.  In addition, there’s a lot of intelligence analysis in the area, which requires high levels of math and analytical skills.”

Fastest Growing

The report also finds that positions in the STEM fields will grow 7 percentage points faster than jobs in all other fields nationwide through 2018 – 17 percent compared to the 10 percent rate of other jobs within the economy as a whole.

But despite the high availability of such positions, the report shows that students with degrees in these disciplines often choose other career paths.

Out of the 19 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates with a STEM degree, for example, only 8 percent continue working in a STEM occupation 10 years after graduation.

Lucrative Careers

“[These degrees provide] choice for people both immediately after school and at mid-career, allowing people to transition to different and oftentimes more lucrative career pathways, including management and health care…” Carnevale says.

He says such alternate paths provide “long-term stability and excellent wages, especially for those with graduate education.”

The reason for the turnover in the STEM fields is related to other occupations’ rising needs for the skills these individuals have.

The 5 percent of the job market that STEM employers make up is therefore misleading – true demand for these employees extends to manufacturing, utilities, mining, professional and business services and other technology-driven industries.

“The underlying STEM knowledge, skills, and abilities are highly transferable, and very valuable,” Carnevale says, “and people with science and math skills are being very well compensated for these skills.”

Degree, Gender, Minority Gaps

The report also points out that 47 percent of people with bachelor’s degrees in STEM areas earn more than those with Ph.D.s in other fields.

The study also found that while women and minorities are underrepresented and paid less than white males in these positions, this pay gap is smaller in STEM positions.

“STEM careers are a good news/bad news story for women and minorities,” Carnevale explains.  “Although the pay gap is smaller, women and minorities are still vastly underrepresented in STEM – women are less than 20 percent of engineers, for example.”

To view the entire report, visit the CEW website.

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