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Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 09/12/2011

Study: Minorities underrepresented in STEM jobs

Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks have over the past decade been underrepresented in U.S. jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in large part because of a lack of equality in educational opportunity, according to a new report being released today.

The Obama administration has made increasing and improving STEM education a priority, asserting that the country’s economic future depends on a strong workforce in these fields.

The report, issued by the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration, says that regardless of race and Hispanic origin, higher college graduation rates are associated with higher shares of workers with STEM jobs.

But, it says, non-Hispanic whites and Asians are much more likely than other minority groups to have earned a bachelor’s degree, and, in part for this reason, have a larger share of STEM jobs.

The report, the third in a series on STEM by the administration, suggests that equality in educational attainment would virtually eliminate demographic disparities within the STEM workforce.

The first two reports focused on jobs in science, tecnology, engineering and math, and gender differences within the STEM workforce. They found, among other things, that :

*Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders, despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs.

*In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the United States, representing about 1 in 18 workers.

*STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.

This third report looks at the demographic composition and educational backgrounds of STEM jobs in the U.S. economy, and it reinforces the importance of higher education for minorities seeking to attain equality of opportunity in the workforce.

The report says that 22 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 14 percent of Hispanics have bachelor's degrees, while 54 percent of Asians and 35 percent of non-Hispanic whites do, and only 17 percent of American Indiana and Alaskan Natives do.

Among the other findings, according to a summary of the report, are:

*Seven out of ten STEM workers are Non-Hispanic whites, which aligns closely with their share of the overall workforce.

*Workers with a bachelor’s degree are significantly more likely than those without a bachelor’s degree to go into a STEM profession, regardless of race and Hispanic origin.

*Non-Hispanic Asians are the most likely (42 percent) to graduate college with a STEM degree.

*Half of all non-Hispanic Asian STEM degree holders go into a STEM job. But the likelihood is lower — 30 percent — among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Black and American Indian and Alaska Native workers.

*Sixty-three percent of foreign-born STEM workers come from Asia, with most from India or China.

*STEM workers in all demographic groups, including the foreign-born, earn more than their non-STEM counterparts. Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks receive a significantly larger STEM wage premium than do non-Hispanic Whites.


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By  |  12:01 AM ET, 09/12/2011

 
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