Although the economy has improved over the past few quarters, economists and pundits have called out one aspect of it still in need of improvement: wages, which have largely stagnated despite the healthier labor market.
But in industries that employ a large percentage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workers, wages have continued to rise, according to data released this month by the Brookings Institute.
In 2014, the average salary of a worker in what Brookings calls “advanced industries” (manufacturing, service, and energy) stood at $92,400, versus $48,800 for those in other industries. Moreover, salaries for those in advanced industries rose 89 percent between 1980 and 2014, outpacing other industries at a collective 38 percent.
“By definition, advanced industries are distinguished by their strong orientation to technology, innovation, and skilled workers to develop and scale up new products,” read Brookings’ note on the data. “By contrast, sectors like health care, education, and retail have neglected research and development and sought to employ, whenever possible, low-cost workers to deliver their products.”
Despite the salary benefits of a STEM degree, and the need for highly educated employees, a number of institutions have released data over the past few years suggesting that the number of U.S. STEM degrees has barely risen. While tech companies routinely blame the education system for that lack of workers, data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that many students who put in the effort to obtain a degree in a STEM discipline don’t actually use it.
Earlier this year, the Brookings Institute also released a list of U.S. cities boasting the highest percentages of STEM jobs, which (perhaps unsurprisingly) included tech hotspots such as San Francisco and San Jose.
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