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Share of Workers in Scientific Fields Shrinks

Wall Street Journal (02/17/12) Conor Dougherty; Rob Barry

The share of American workers with science and engineering expertise—crucial in an increasingly high-tech economy—declined slightly during the past decade, according to a new analysis of Census data. Workers in technical fields ranging from architecture to software design accounted for 4.9% of the labor force in 2010, down from a high of 5.3% in 2000.

The share of these knowledge workers had increased in every 10-year Census since 1950, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit demographic research group that conducted the study. Workers in technical fields also are aging, with the number of scientists and engineers aged 55 or older increasing 32% between 2005 and 2010, while those under 35 fell 1%, according to the PRB analysis.