US National Science Foundation Released Science & Engineering Indicators 2012

Bridges, vol. 33, May 2012 / Noteworthy Information

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its biennial Science & Engineering Indicators report, which tracks data trends in global and domestic R&D funding, STEM education, the science workforce, and public attitudes toward science and technology.

The full Science & Engineering Indicators report is available at:

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The report, using data through 2009, finds that long-term growth in domestic R&D investment, while slowing considerably, nevertheless outpaced broader economic growth. The US also maintained a substantial lead in global research investments, though its share of global R&D declined from 38 percent in 1999 to 31 percent in 2009. This slippage is primarily due to substantial acceleration of research investments in Asia, especially in China. Thanks to its explosive growth of 20 percent per year, China now ranks second in research investment, recently surpassing Japan. The report finds continuing support by the American public for science and technology, but also notes some troubling trends for the US high-tech sector of the global marketplace.

The new data also show that US companies are adding research jobs overseas at a record pace while their domestic research workforce is growing very slowly. About 85 percent of the new research jobs at US-based multinational companies are being filled abroad, according to data from a 2009 survey. Those hiring decisions pushed the share of research jobs outside the United States to 27 percent of the companies' overall technical workforce, up from 16 percent in 2004. At the same time that US companies are hiring more foreign workers, the US has lost 28 percent of its high-technology manufacturing jobs in the last decade. That decline of 687,000 jobs came after the number of people working in that sector – which covers aerospace, pharmaceuticals, computing, and high-precision equipment – peaked at 2.5 million in 2000.

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