August 24

STEM Talent Shortages A Costly Reality

Government’s plan to reduce American companies’ freedom to hire the best workers, will crush the U.S. economy.

President Trump has formally backed legislation that will cut legal immigration by half over the next decade. Hardest hit would be high skilled immigrant workers and the companies which employ them.

Many in Washington believe that the shortage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM) professionals is a myth. However, there is firm evidence that STEM talent shortages are an economic reality.

There are simply more STEM jobs than unemployed STEM workers. According to research from the Brookings Institution and Change the Equation, from 2009 to 2011, 1.9 STEM jobs were posted online for every unemployed STEM worker looking for work in the United States. These job openings also stayed posted longer with 43% of STEM job vacancies being open after one month compared to only 32% of non-STEM vacancies.

The backlog of unfilled STEM positions is only destined to get worse. The STEM occupations will see the fastest growth of any field between 2010 and 2020. By 2018, the United States will face a shortage of over 223,0000 STEM workers.

The Partnership for the New American Economy unemployment data shows a lack of STEM workers across all fields. In 2011, national unemployment was about 8 percent. However, among U.S. citizens with PhDs in STEM there is an unemployment rate of only about 3.2 percent. Those with a master’s degree in STEM enjoyed an unemployment rate of only 3.4 percent.

It is not only the computer professions that have a shortage of talent. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the medical sector will be particularly hard hit by shortages as the population ages. Demand for physicians will exceed supply by 2025 and the nursing field will see a shortage of 808,416 or 29 percent of the needed supply by 2020.

The unintended consequences of passing legislation that will cut legal immigration will be profound.

  • The negative effect on the economy would be the loss of jobs and decrease in the gross domestic product.
  • Immigrant owned business generated $775 billion in economic revenue in 2011 and employed 4.7 million workers.
  • It would have a chilling effect on our top industry, high tech, that thrives by bringing in foreign talent in the STEM professions as that those skills are drastically lacking.

The number of U.S. students pursuing STEM degrees is growing by just 1 percent per year according to McKinsey Global Institute. Experienced STEM talent is even more lacking. The U.S. General Accountability office reported that in the decade between 2002 and 2012, just 2 percent of graduate degrees earned by U.S. citizens and green card holders were in STEM. This compares to 23 percent of graduate degrees earned by foreign students in U.S. universities.

With fewer STEM graduated feeding a growing pool of STEM professional jobs, it is absolutely essential to utilize foreign talent in filling these positions. The Partnership for the New American Economy reports H-1B visa denials in 2007 and 2008 cost American workers 231,224 tech jobs and $3 billion in aggregate annual earnings over the following two years. In a 2015 study by Business Roundtable, the U.S. ranked second to last (ahead of only Japan, a national historically closed to immigrants) in welcoming immigrants and entrepreneurs. America simply cannot afford to turn away the talent other countries such as Germany, Australia, Canada and Singapore are welcoming with open arms.

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