Local economic developers and policy pundits often point to scientific and research jobs as an important part of regional economies and a critical driver of innovation for the nation's economy. As we continue to filter through the data in our latest release (built on nearly 90 federal and state data sources), we notice that many occupations related to science and research are doing quite well.
The actual category of occupations is referred to as “life, physical, and social science occupations,” by Bureau of Labor's Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC 19). This group includes 44 occupations from the associate's degree to doctorate level, ranging from medical technicians to market research analysts. In this post, we will look at how states compare in this job category and highlight some of the jobs that are most notable since ’07.
First, here is a quick overview of the sector. There are currently 1.3 million jobs in this category, and since 2007 there has been 3.3% growth at the national level. In 2010, over 500,000 students completed education and training related to these jobs, according to the IPEDS database from the National Center for Education Statistics. (Note: These graduates would also be pursuing occupations that we are not measuring in this analysis, so this data doesn’t necessarily say that overtraining is occurring). We estimate that in 2011 there were nearly 70,000 openings for science and research occupations in this category.
The median hourly wage for this category is nearly $30 per hour and there is a pretty even split between males and females. Also, nearly 50% of the people who work in this sector are between the ages of 25 and 44.
- Not surprisingly, California has the highest number of these jobs (nearly 200,000). From 2007 to 2011, the state gained over 8,000 jobs. The state also has a jobs concentration (LQ) of 1.24, higher than than the national average (1.0).
- North Dakota and South Dakota had the highest percent growth for these jobs (12% and 10%, respectively). However, because employment was relatively low to begin with, each state added less than 500 jobs.
- The District of Columbia has the highest concentration of these jobs as well as the highest pay. From 2007 to 2011, about 1,500 new jobs were created. The concentration of these jobs in DC is more than three times greater than the national average.
- Other states with relatively high concentrations of these jobs are Alaska (2.0), Delaware (1.9), Montana (1.89), Wyoming (1.73), Massachusetts (1.7), New Mexico (1.6), Idaho (1.58), Maryland (1.57), Washington (1.56), Colorado (1.28), Vermont (1.26), Oregon (1.24), New Jersey (1.24), New York (1.14), and Minnesota (1.12).
- Perhaps surprisingly, New Jersey is one of only six states to have lost jobs in this occupation sector over the past five years. In New Jersey, the job loss was actually quite substantial––3,400 jobs, a 7.4% decline. Also of note, the states with the lowest concentration of these jobs tend to be in the South: Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississippi (among other states) are all well below the national average for these occupations.
Below is a table of all the states, sorted from the most to the least concentrated. The data comes from EMSI’s 2011.4 Covered dataset.
|State Name||2007 Jobs||2011 Jobs||Change||% Change||2011 Median Hourly Wage||2007 National LQ|
|District of Columbia||20,395||21,920||1,525||7.5%||$42.43||3.16|
Altogether there are 44 distinct occupations captured in this category. We have selected the top 14 jobs based on total number of jobs, growth (% and total), and earnings. The data has been organized based on educational level. The 14 occupations we selected added over 42,000 jobs, which is 7% growth in five years. Average earnings are about $32 per hour. There is also an even distribution between associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral education levels.
|SOC Code||Description||2007 Jobs||2011 Jobs||Change||% Change||2011 Avg Hourly Wage||Education Level|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2011.4|
|19-4041||Geological and petroleum technicians||13,805||15,258||1,453||11%||$27.99||Associate's degree|
|19-4093||Forest and conservation technicians||29,306||31,577||2,271||8%||$17.65||Associate's degree|
|19-4099||Life, physical, and social science technicians, all other||59,353||60,501||1,148||2%||$21.60||Associate's degree|
|19-4021||Biological technicians||71,269||75,215||3,946||6%||$19.90||Bachelor's degree|
|19-3022||Survey researchers||19,716||21,693||1,977||10%||$20.39||Bachelor's degree|
|19-3021||Market research analysts||225,271||230,358||5,087||2%||$32.47||Bachelor's degree|
|19-2099||Physical scientists, all other||24,343||25,382||1,039||4%||$44.66||Bachelor's degree|
|19-2041||Environmental scientists and specialists, including health||81,070||83,675||2,605||3%||$32.41||Master's degree|
|19-2042||Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers||30,504||32,602||2,098||7%||$44.99||Master's degree|
|19-3099||Social scientists and related workers, all other||28,226||31,068||2,842||10%||$35.12||Master's degree|
|19-1029||Biological scientists, all other||27,425||30,380||2,955||11%||$33.30||Doctoral degree|
|19-1042||Medical scientists, except epidemiologists||95,226||105,224||9,998||10%||$40.67||Doctoral degree|
|19-3031||Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists||94,123||97,347||3,224||3%||$34.74||Doctoral degree|
|19-1021||Biochemists and biophysicists||21,762||23,504||1,742||8%||$42.58||Doctoral degree|
- HIGHEST-PAYING – The highest-paying jobs on the list are geoscientists and physical scientists. Both average over $44 per hour. It is interesting to note that these are jobs associated with master’s and bachelor’s degree education rather than doctoral degrees. Most would just naturally assume that the doctoral degrees would have higher wages. Geoscientists gained 2,000 jobs (7% growth) and physical scientists gained 1,000 jobs (3% growth).
- FASTEST-GROWING – The fastest-growing jobs on the list have been geological and petroleum technicians and biological scientists. They both grew by 11% over the past five years and added 1,500 and 3,000 jobs respectively. They each average about $30 per hour. The average ed level for geological and petroleum techs is an associate’s, and biological scientists typically have doctoral degrees. Again notice the similarity in wages; a higher average education level doesn’t necessarily result in higher wages. Other occupations that experienced higher levels of growth were survey researchers, social scientists, and medical scientists, which all had 10% growth.
- MOST NEW JOBS – Medical scientists (doctoral degree level) added 10,000 jobs in five years, which is the largest number of new jobs. Medical scientists average about $40 per hour and there are over 100,000 working across the nation. The next occupation is market research analysts, which added 5,000 jobs (2% growth). Market research analysts make just over $30 an hour and typically have bachelor’s degrees.
- MOST JOBS – Market research analysts also have the highest level of employment on this list: 230,000 jobs are classified under this title. The typical ed level for this job is a bachelor’s degree.
If you would like to take a closer look at each of the jobs, including what industries they work in, simply click the links below. The data and analysis comes straight from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market analysis tool. With Analyst, users can look at over 800 occupations and 1,100 industries for any geography in the US. Data is also available for the UK.
Geological and petroleum technicians
Forest and conservation technicians
Life, physical, and social science technicians (all other)
Market research analysts
Physical scientists (all other)
Environmental scientists and specialists (including health)
Geoscientists (except hydrologists and geographers)
Social scientists and related workers (all other)
Biological scientists (all other)
Medical scientists (except epidemiologists)
Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists
Biochemists and biophysicists
Rob Sentz is the marketing director at EMSI, an Idaho-based economics firm that provides data and analysis to workforce boards, economic development agencies, higher education institutions and the private sector. He is the author of a series of green jobs white papers. For more, contact Rob Sentz (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also reach us via Twitter @DesktopEcon.
Illustration by Mark Beauchamp.