Executive Summary

Key takeaways:

  • The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce (36.8 million workers) accounted for 24% of U.S. workers in 2021. Between 2011 and 2021, the percentage of workers in STEM occupations increased from 22% to 24%. STEM workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher had greater growth than those without a bachelor’s degree or higher, otherwise known as the skilled technical workforce (STW).
  • Between 2019 and 2021, employment rates for people associated with STEM occupations decreased less (from 88% to 86%) than for people associated with non-STEM occupations (from 83% to 79%).
  • In 2021, 18% of women worked in STEM occupations, which was about three-fifths the rate of men (30%).
  • Men outnumbered women 2.75 to 1.00 in science and engineering (S&E) occupations and 8.50 to 1.00 in middle-skill occupations in 2021. The only STEM occupation group in which women outnumbered men was S&E-related occupations, with about twice as many women as men.
  • In 2021, the percentage of Black or African American workers in STEM occupations (8%) was lower than their percentage of the total workforce (11%). The percentage of STEM workers that were Hispanic workers was 15%, compared with 18% of all workers.
  • Among workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher whose highest degree was in an S&E field, 60% of female workers and 58% of Black or African American workers held jobs outside of S&E or S&E-related areas.
  • Full-time, year-round workers in STEM occupations in 2021 had median earnings about $19,100 per year more than those in non-STEM occupations. STEM middle-skill workers in the skilled technical workforce (STW) had median earnings about $10,000 more than non-STEM workers without a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • About 46% of all STEM workers had a professional certification, license, or educational certificate in 2020. Work credentials were most common among S&E-related workers (67%) and least common among S&E workers (28%).
  • In 2021, a larger portion of foreign-born workers held STEM occupations (26%) than U.S.-born workers (24%). Proportionally, more naturalized citizens worked in S&E-related occupations (11%) than noncitizens (5%) or U.S.-born citizens (9%). Additionally, larger proportions of noncitizens worked in STEM middle-skill occupations (12%) than naturalized citizens (8%) or U.S.-born workers (9%).