Most readers here know how brutal the employment situation is for chemists (especially those involved in drug discovery). Knowing that and seeing constant headlines about the crippling shortage of so-called STEM workers is always hard to take, but there's always the danger of extrapolating chemistry (especially organic chemistry) to science and engineering in general. Surely the electrical engineers are finding jobs, right?
Surely not. The number of employed electrical engineers in the US went down by 10% last year. And according to Ron Hira at the Rochester Institute of Technology, there's more:
The number of employed software developers, the largest IT occupation segment, increased by only 1.75%, to 1.1 million, a gain of 19,000. The unemployment rate for developers last year was 2.7%, which is still elevated, according to Hira.
Jobs for computer systems analysts increased by 35,000, to 534,000, an increase of 7%, but Hira said it is the most common H-1B occupation and that nearly all those gains went to H-1B visa holders. . .
. . .Claims of shortages of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers "have no support in fact and no connection to reality, " Hira said. "The NASDAQ is at its record high in more than a decade, only at the height of the dot-com bubble was it higher." adding that hiring for electronics engineers should be booming.
There are plenty of other numbers that say the same thing: there is no shortage of scientists and engineers in this country. There may still be some specialties where it's hard to find good people, although I don't know what they are and I'd like to see proof of that first, but overall there is no STEM shortage. Unless, of course, you ask the head of PhRMA. Or Eli Lilly's CEO. Or Bayer. Or the schools that profit by driving more people into science and engineering studies. Or the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Or Accenture. Or Mark Zuckerberg.
We have a serious disconnect here. Is there a shortage of skilled labor, or just a shortage of really cheap skilled labor? Some of that disconnect may be on display later this afternoon, as David Harwell of the ACS Career Management and Development office starts taking questions live over at Reddit Science. Might be worth a look. . .