California leads the way in terms of engineering employment

California leads the way in terms of engineering employment

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News & Events - Engineering News

August 23, 2013

California has long been seen as a place where innovation and engineering research go hand in hand, with the chance of tech or science employment on the West Coast always thought to be higher than in other parts of the country. It now appears that this is indeed the case, with a recent report from the National Science Foundation confirming that the Golden State leads the rest of the country in terms of jobs, making it potentially the ideal destination for budding engineers across all industry sectors.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the state provided STEM-related jobs for almost 14 percent of the total national engineering and science workforce in 2011, with the NSF study showing that 786,653 people worked in the sector in California alone. To put this into perspective, both New York and Texas were also identified as having a high concentration of employed scientists or engineers, but could only cumulatively muster 328,251 and 450, 316 jobs, respective.

Talent concentration
Together, all three states account for over 25 percent of all engineering and science workers in the United States, however California can boast 3 cities - Santa Clara, Los Angeles and San Diego - that provide one in ten of the total number of employees nationwide. If we bear in mind that there were 5.7 million people who indicated in the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey that they were employed as either engineers or scientists, then the concentration of talent on the west is very impressive.

Naturally, there are other areas that have companies and facilities engaged in engineering research but, according to the NSF report, not at the same level, with a further 25 percent of workers spread over the states of Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts and Ohio. While California could claim several cities with high employment in the various research and development sectors, other states normally only had one city that could claim to be a hub, with Denver, Boston, and Houston all reporting what could be considered to be a significant science or engineering workforce.

The study also broke down the varying areas of employment within the industry itself. According to the news source, these subcategories included biological sciences, computer and mathematical sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and engineering. Once again, California ranked high on the list for individual disciplines, with Los Angeles reporting significant levels of employment across all identified categories.

Intensity of employment
However, the West Coast did not come out on top in terms of the intensity of science and engineering employment. In fact, despite the three most populous states - California, Texas, New York - providing one in four of all employed S&E workers in the United States, there was evidence that other regions all had high levels of their population engaged in these occupations.

The findings of the study - which we must remember was based upon responses garnered from the 2011 Census -  showed that the proportion of workers employed in these types of jobs in each state was highest in the District of Columbia, followed by Maryland, with Massachusetts, Virginia, Colorado and Washington.

Interestingly enough, all of the top-ranking areas under study by the NSF were all considered to be desirable places for engineers or scientists to ply their trade, with the authors concluding that abundant numbers of individuals engaged in scientific or engineering research was an important barometer of technological growth.

"The availability of a skilled workforce is an important predictor of a region's population, productivity, and technological growth," wrote the authors of the report. "Workers with S&E expertise are an integral part of a region's innovative capacity because of their high levels of skill, creative ideas, and contributions to scientific knowledge and R&D."

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