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Where the Jobs Are: STEM Fields

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Job postings outnumber unemployed people by almost 2-to-1

You've heard countless stories of the stiff odds facing the unemployed. An analysis of online job postings and unemployment data in the past three years finds that, on average, unemployed people outnumbered online job postings by well more than 3-to-1. But for those with a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) background the picture is much brighter. Across the STEM fields, job postings outnumbered unemployed people by almost 2-to-1. Even in a tough economy, STEM is where the jobs are.

As outlined in Change the Equation's new Vital Signs report, "STEM Help Wanted," these numbers are telling. The contrast between STEM occupations and other major occupational areas is particularly striking. In office and administrative support occupations, for example, there were about four unemployed people for every job posting. The picture is less dire, though still troubling, in management occupations (2.2 unemployed per posting) and business and financial occupations (1.7 unemployed per posting). On the other end of the spectrum, advertised jobs in health care occupations that require STEM outnumbered unemployed people by a whopping 3.2-to-1.

And CTEq's analysis of online job postings and unemployment data shows similar patterns across every state. For their own economic vitality, states must put in place policies that help workers get retrained with STEM skills, offer incentives to students to master STEM knowledge, and focus on the pipeline -- beginning in elementary school -- to create a robust supply of STEM-adept citizens.

And that's where CTEq is making a difference by bringing together a coalition of CEOs to advance the STEM learning agenda and motivate students. On the advocacy front, CTEq uses ground-breaking data and in-depth analyses to arm business, education, non-profit and state leaders with the information they need to advocate for sustained policies and research-based practices that enhance student mastery of and interest in STEM disciplines. More than 200 people representing 41 states and the District of Columbia are meeting today and tomorrow (May 3-4) in Washington, DC, to look at the "STEM Help Wanted" Vital Signs report, review other critical indicators for which CTEq is currently analyzing data, and examine effective policy levers that can address weak indicators to move their state STEM agendas forward.

On the inspirational side, we must give America's youth a solid foundation in STEM and insight into their rich postsecondary and career options. The demand for STEM skills extends well beyond STEM-specific jobs, and the number of jobs requiring a STEM background is expected to have grown 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, far faster than the 10 percent growth projected for overall employment. Students who gain a strong STEM foundation today will face brighter prospects in years to come. States that focus on the STEM learning of their young people are investing in a prosperous future where they can attract innovative new industries.

The urgency has never been greater, and CTEq members are leading the effort to promote proven state policies and research-based practices that enhance student mastery of and interest in STEM disciplines. As Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns states, "When it comes to pushing for better results in STEM learning, impatience is a virtue." The future is now.