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February 1992, Vol. 115, No. 2
Douglas J. Braddock
O ur Nation's economic progress and general well-being depend in considerable measure on the work of scientists, engineers, and technicians. These men and women contribute to the development of new products, improvements in productivity, enhanced defense capabilities, environmental protection, and advances in communications and health care. Because of the importance of scientific and technical workers, information about the current and future labor market for scientists and technicians has great significance. The National Science Foundation's Division of Science Resources Studies, charged with the responsibility for monitoring the adequacy of the supply of scientific and technical workers in meeting the Nation's needs, supported a Bureau of Labor Statistics study of employment prospects for these workers. This article summarizes the results of that study.
The BLS study focused on the development of alternative employment projections for scientists, engineers, and technicians1 covering the period 1990-2005. The study also analyzed alternative future supply and demand scenarios for these workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics develops alternative projections of the labor force, economic growth, industry output and employment, and occupational employment every other year. The most current projections, covering 1990-2005, were published in the November 1991 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. Each set of projections consists of a low, moderate, and high growth alternative, developed through a series of models that relate economic theory to economic behavior.2 While these alternative projections indicate a wide range of employment growth in most occupations, including the scientific and technical occupations, the range of growth for each is determined primarily by variations in the growth of the labor force and the factors affecting aggregate economic variables, such as gross national product (GNP), exports and imports, and national defense.
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1 Scientists include life scientists, physical scientists, social scientists, and mathematical, computer, and operations research analysts. Technicians include engineering and science technicians and computer programmers. The detailed occupations in each group are listed in table 3, as are the detailed engineering specialties. Engineering and science managers were also included in the analysis.
2 Details on the methodology used to develop the projections will be published in Outlook: 1990-2005, Bulletin 2402 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, forthcoming).
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