Is there a shortage of STEM workers?

Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times recently reported on the much-talked-about shortage of STEM workers, or workers in fields that predominantly deal with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). He notes that many studies indicate that the shortage of STEM workers is imagined. He also discovered that many of the companies that complain about their inability to find STEM workers are, paradoxically, laying off large numbers of them.


Like other supposed labor shortages, if there were a real shortage, wages would be expected to grow. This is because employers would compete over a small number of workers, and they would need to raise wages to attract those workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics program tracks the average wage of STEM occupations dividing them into four subdomains. These consist of a Health subdomain, a Social Science subdomain, an Architecture subdomain, and a Life and Physical Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Information Technology subdomain (this last subdomain is where most technology workers would fall). The chart below shows the year-over-year nominal wage growth for the occupations in those four subdomains.

Wage growth for all of these subdomains fell after the Great Recession and none have recovered. All are under 2.0 percent, with wage growth in the Social Science Subdomain close to zero. It’s important to note that this is nominal wage growth, so we would expect real wage growth to be even lower.

Stephen By Stephen

About me


Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.