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U.S. report sees perils to America's tech future

Patrick Thibodeau | Jan. 9, 2012
The ability of the U.S. to compete globally is eroding, according to a Commerce Department report released Friday that described itself as a "call to arms."

The report also points out that "individuals at the very top of the income distribution have fared better during this time than others; one study found that between 1993 and 2008, income grew almost 4% per year for those with incomes in the top 1% of the income distribution."

In regard to STEM training, the report makes an argument for immigration reform that enables foreign students to remain in the U.S. It doesn't offer specifics on an approach for accomplishing this, or look at the debate around this issue. In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the U.S., representing about one in 18 workers. Computer and math occupations account for close to half the STEM employment.

The U.S., the report said, produces fewer STEM graduates relative to other developed countries. Citing data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), the report said that in 2009, nearly 13% of U.S. graduates with bachelor's degrees were in STEM fields, near the bottom of OCED countries.

"Significant economic competitors -- such as South Korea (26.3%), Germany (24.5%), Canada (19.2%), and the United Kingdom (18.1%) -- are on the long list of countries producing a much higher percentage of STEM graduates," the report said.

One in five STEM workers is foreign born, with 63% coming from Asia, the report said. The foreign-born share of STEM workers with graduate degrees is 44%.



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