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Federal R&D Obligations per Employed Worker (Dollars)

State Indicator S-42

This indicator represents how federal R&D obligations are disbursed geographically relative to the size of a state's employed civilian workforce. Federal R&D dollars are attributed to the states in which the recipient organizations are located.

Information about federal obligations for R&D come from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics’ Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development, which is the primary source of information about federal funding for R&D in the United States. The survey is an annual census completed by the federal agencies that conduct R&D programs. The Department of Defense (DOD) disburses the most federal R&D funding, approximately 50% of the total. The geographic distribution of DOD funding to industry, mostly for development, reflects the location of prime contractors only, not the subcontractors who perform much of the R&D. A high value may indicate the existence of many large prime contractors or major federally funded R&D facilities in a state. Higher values for this indicator occur in the states surrounding the District of Columbia and in less populated states with national laboratories or federal facilities.

Employed workforce data are estimates of employed civilians based on Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS assigns workers to a location based on residence. Estimates for states with smaller populations are generally less precise than estimates for states with larger populations. This indicator may be biased in areas where workers cross state lines for their place of employment, which receives the obligations.

Data sources: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, Federal Funds for Research and Development; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics.

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NA = not available.

NOTES: Eleven agencies are required to report federal R&D obligations: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Interior, and Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the National Science Foundation. Obligations of these 11 agencies represented over 97% of total federal R&D obligations in FY 2018. Federal R&D obligations are reported in current dollars. United States total includes obligations for U.S. territories and for which the location of performance cannot be determined. Workforce represents the employed component of the civilian labor force and is reported as annual data not seasonally adjusted. The national workforce total reported for the United States includes Puerto Rico.

SOURCE: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development (various years), data as of May 2020; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (various years), data as of May 2020.

Recommended Citation: National Science Board. “Federal R&D Obligations per Employed Worker.” Science and Engineering Indicators: State Indicators. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Accessed on [date of user access].

Last updated: November 30, 2020