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U.S. losing high-tech jobs, R&D dominance to Asia

Ann Bednarz | Jan. 20, 2012
U.S. companies are locating more of their research and development operations overseas, and Asian countries are rapidly increasing investments in their own science and technology economies, the National Science Board (NSB) reported this week.

* By looking at the numbers of scientific and technical research articles published in a set of international, peer-reviewed journals, NSB concludes that researchers in the EU and the United States are losing their dominance in world article production. Their combined share of published articles decreased from 69% in 1995 to 58% in 2009, while Asia's world article share expanded from 14% to 24%.

* Collaborative research is becoming the norm. Based on the number of research articles with international co-authors, NSB found that collaboration across national boundaries is increasing. In 2009, 23% of the world's science and engineering articles had international co-authors, up from just 8% in 1988. The trend is even more pronounced in the world's major science and technology regions, where 27%-42% of 2009 articles had international co-authors.

* After peaking in 2000, the number of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the U.S. has declined by 28%, for a total loss of 687,000 jobs.

"Over the last decade, the world has changed dramatically," stated José-Marie Griffiths, chair of the NSB committee that oversaw production of the Indicators 2012 report. "It's now a world with very different actors who have made advancement in science and technology a top priority. And many of the troubling trends we're seeing are now very well established."

For its part, National Science Foundation has launched a number of initiatives intended to better position the U.S. globally through improved education and international collaborations. Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) fosters interaction among scientists, engineers and educators around the globe, for instance, and the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program is designed to shepherd promising research out of university labs and into the commercial world.

"NSF's support of fundamental research, which propels intellectual curiosity in every branch of science and engineering, and ignites the passion to uncover the inner workings of nature, is more precious now than ever before," Suresh said.



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