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Share of Workers in Scientific Fields Shrinks

By Wall Street Journal

February 17, 2012

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The number of U.S. workers in science and engineering professions fell in the past decade, ending a steady upward trend in the proportion of workers in fields associated with technology.

Workers in technical fields accounted for 4.9 percent of the labor force in 2010, down from 5.3 percent in 2000. Before 2000, the share of technical workers had increased in every 10-year period since 1950, according to a Population Reference Bureau (PRB) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

PRB's study could encourage politicians and analysts to call for an expanded share of workers who have advanced skills, and find ways to encourage investment in the industries that will employ them.

The study found that although there have been huge gains in jobs such as software design and applied mathematics, the number of technical workers in older-line industries have declined. The study also found that the number of scientists and engineers aged 55 or older increased 32 percent between 2005 and 2010, while those under 35 fell one percent.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign-born workers is growing. In 2010, about one in five workers in the technical labor force was foreign born, compared with one in six in 2000, according to PRB.

From Wall Street Journal 
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