Report data shows strong labor market for engineers

According to NSF data from three separate surveys, individuals working in science and engineering occupations grew by 4.3%, and their unemployment rate dropped to 2.5% in 2006, the lowest unemployment rate since the early 1990s. Read on for other engineering employment trends.


Three newly published National Science Foundation (NSF) reports show increasing workforce availability of scientists and engineers, as well as a strong labor market for these professions.

According to NSF data from the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System reports (SESTAT), individuals working in science and engineering occupations grew by 4.3%, and their unemployment rate dropped to 2.5% in 2006, the lowest unemployment rate since the early 1990s.

NSF collects data for these three reports every 2 years. Scientists and engineers are defined as people with a bachelor’s degree or higher with science, engineering, or related degrees or occupations.

Three separate national surveys make up SESTAT: National Survey of College Graduates, National Survey of Recent College Graduates, and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. NSF will field the next round of the SESTAT surveys of scientists and engineers in fall 2008.

"The NSF data tell one side of the story - the supply side, and do not reflect information about the future or current demand for scientists and engineers," said Nimmi Kannankutty, NSF program manager responsible for compiling the data. "On the supply side, we can say that the current S&E labor force is expanding, new graduates are coming out, and people are able to find employment, or are continuing their education."

A separate NSF report on new graduates shows potential for a new influx of S&E workers. In 2006, there were 1.9 million new science, engineering, and health graduates with degrees earned in academic years 2003 to 2005 in the United States.

Nearly all of these new graduates either entered the workforce or moved on to higher education. Women made up more than 50% of these new science, engineering, and health graduates, but this varied by specific field.

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