Almost three quarters of US STEM graduates do not work in STEM occupations
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 18, 2014 - 4:04 AM

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Almost three quarters of US STEM graduates do not work in STEM occupations and the 3.8m that do from a total of 14.8m, account for 2.6% of the employed workforce.

The US Census Bureau report that 74% of those who have a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering and math - - commonly referred to as STEM - - are not employed in STEM occupations. In addition, men continue to be overrepresented in STEM, especially in computer and engineering occupations. About 86% of engineers and 74% of computer professionals are men.

"STEM graduates have relatively low unemployment, however these graduates are not necessarily employed in STEM occupations," said Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist in the Census Bureau's Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch.

According to new statistics from the 2012 American Community Survey, engineering and computer, maths and statistics majors had the largest share of graduates going into a STEM field with about half employed in a STEM occupation. Science majors had fewer of their graduates employed in STEM. About 26% of physical science majors; 15% of biological, environmental and agricultural sciences majors; 10% of psychology majors; and 7% of social science majors were employed in STEM.

Approximately 14% of engineers were women, where they were most underrepresented of all the STEM fields. Representation of women was higher among mathematicians and statisticians (45%), life scientists (47%) and social scientists (63%). The rates of mathematicians and statisticians, and life scientists are not statistically different from each other.


The tables released today highlight statistics on field of degree, occupation, unemployment and median earnings for college graduates by sex, race and Hispanic origin. In addition, the tables include state level STEM occupation information. Below details a few highlights from the tables:

  • At 9.1m, the college major with the most graduates was business, while multidisciplinary studies was the major with the smallest number of graduates at 275,000.
  • Engineering was the major with the highest earnings ($92,900), while the major with the lowest earnings was visual and performing arts ($50,700).
  • In 2012, 3.6% of all college graduates between the ages of 25 and 64 were unemployed. A larger percentage of men than women were unemployed: 3.7% and 3.5%, respectively.
  • Non-STEM management occupations employed the most male college graduates (3.8m), while education occupations employed the most female college graduates (4.3m).
  • States with the largest percentage of STEM workers: Maryland (18.8%), Washington (18.3%) and Virginia (16.5%). The rates of workers in Maryland and Washington are not statistically different from each other.

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