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Minnesota's STEM Workforce

by Tim O'Neill and Brent Pearson
September 2014

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STEM jobs are growing faster than jobs overall in Minnesota and offer salaries that are much higher than the average for all industries in the state.

Minnesota is poised for growth, thanks to a diverse economy that supports a wide variety of industries and occupations. One field that has been emerging in recent years is STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Because of their appeal, STEM jobs have drawn the attention of policymakers and educators, who have encouraged students and job seekers to consider those disciplines for their careers.

Unfortunately, many definitions of STEM are muddy - including and excluding different industries and occupations - and the STEM landscape is constantly evolving as new technologies emerge. In addition, the skills typically associated with STEM, including scientific reasoning, engineering knowledge and mathematical competency, are not exclusive to STEM jobs, although STEM occupations and industries make greater use of these skills than others.

This article uses the Workforce Information Council report "Exploring the High-Tech Industry"1 to identify STEM industries and occupations. After reviewing the national average concentrations of STEM jobs across all industry sectors, the Workforce Information Council selected only those industry sectors with a concentration level of 2.5 times the national average, categorizing 33 industry subsectors in the STEM Core Component and 13 in Health Care.

According to data from DEED's Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), Minnesota had about 545,000 jobs in STEM industries through 2013, accounting for about one in five jobs statewide. This article will focus primarily on the STEM Core Component industries identified by the Workforce Information Council. Those industries accounted for just under 40 percent of STEM employment in Minnesota (210,000 jobs). STEM Health Care, which includes the other 335,000 jobs, will be covered in a future article.

STEM Industries with Many Roots

STEM Core industries are a significant part of the state economy and have grown recently. Of the STEM Core industry sectors, 15 were in manufacturing, seven were in information, four were in professional, scientific and technical services, three were in wholesale trade, three were in energy (either extraction, generation or transportation) and one was in finance.

In the last decade, STEM Core industries added jobs more than twice as fast as all industries in Minnesota and were affected less by the recession. Between 2003 and 2013, STEM Core industries gained over 19,000 jobs, a 10.1 percent increase compared with a 4.4 percent increase in all industries. While the state suffered a 4.3 percent decline in jobs from 2007 to 2009, STEM Core industries declined just 0.2 percent. Since coming out of the recession, STEM Core industries have grown about 5 percent, slightly outpacing the state in growth from 2009 to 2013 (see Table 1).


Table 1

Employment in Minnesota's STEM Core Industries, 2003-2013

NAICS Industry Title

NAICS Code

Number of
Establishments
2013

Number of
Jobs 2013

Average Annual
Wages 2013

2009-2013
Job Change

2007-2013
Job Change

2003-2013
Job Change

Total, All Industries

0

165,051

2,691,763

$50,128

+4.6%

+0.1%

+4.4%

Total, STEM Industries

 

15,370

208,718

$85,531

+4.9%

+4.6%

+10.1%

Oil and Gas Extraction

2111

12

34

$362,128

+240.0%

+240.0%

+240.0%

Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution

2211

321

12,101

$97,552

+4.8%

+10.3%

+11.8%

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

3241

20

2,158

$109,304

+0.3%

-8.9%

-8.6%

Basic Chemical Manufacturing

3251

47

1,343

$69,680

+15.6%

+23.0%

+44.3%

Resin, Synthetic Rubber, Fibers and Filaments Manufacturing

3252

11

385

$81,640

+8.8%

0.0%

+32.3%

Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing

3254

57

3,258

$73,840

-5.3%

+7.6%

+41.8%

Industrial Machinery Manufacturing

3332

100

3,014

$71,916

+20.8%

-1.2%

+7.7%

Commercial and Service Industry Machinery Manufacturing

3333

71

3,409

$69,888

-2.4%

-13.0%

-30.3%

Engine, Turbine and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing

3336

17

458

$50,700

+26.5%

-19.8%

-27.0%

Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

3341

59

8,795

$108,264

-16.3%

-33.2%

-42.2%

Communications Equipment Manufacturing

3342

34

1,900

$72,956

-12.3%

-20.1%

-28.2%

Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing

3343

20

208

$48,308

-43.8%

-61.5%

-67.1%

Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing

3344

134

8,989

$57,252

+2.7%

-17.3%

-15.9%

Navigational, Measuring and Electromedical Instruments Manufacturing

3345

196

24,553

$97,396

-3.3%

-1.2%

+6.4%

Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media

3346

20

355

$61,360

-29.1%

-54.0%

-69.2%

Electrical Equipment Manufacturing

3353

69

5,195

$64,480

+11.6%

+12.2%

+39.3%

Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Wholesalers

4234

1,106

13,178

$86,268

+5.8%

-4.6%

-7.5%

Electrical and Electronic Goods Merchant Wholesalers

4236

572

8,068

$66,924

-0.8%

-13.4%

+2.9%

Drugs and Druggists' Sundries Merchant Wholesalers

4242

195

2,239

$113,828

-16.4%

-18.3%

-26.5%

Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil

4861

15

200

$102,596

+250.9%

+325.5%

ND

Software Publishers

5112

297

6,336

$95,836

+14.1%

+7.8%

+10.6%

Wired Telecommunications Carriers

5171

445

9,138

$69,732

-4.7%

ND

ND

Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite)

5172

145

2,811

$62,816

-12.8%

-22.8%

-7.5%

Satellite Telecommunications (Q2 2011 data)

5174

10

231

$81,016

ND

ND

ND

Other Telecommunications (Q2 2011 data)

5179

204

1,332

$69,836

ND

ND

ND

Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services

5182

372

8,107

$78,832

+9.5%

+5.8%

-4.3%

Other Information Services

5191

702

4,562

$51,376

+7.8%

+8.7%

+38.5%

Monetary Authorities - Central Bank

5211

24

1,143

$86,736

ND

ND

ND

Source: DEED Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program


The largest employing STEM sector in Minnesota was computer systems design and related services, with more than 32,000 jobs at 4,700 business establishments. The next largest sector was navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing, with 24,500 jobs at about 200 firms. Other large sectors include architectural, engineering and related services; management, scientific and technical consulting services; professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers; and electric power generation, transmission and distribution.

More than half of the STEM Core sectors have seen employment growth in Minnesota since 2009, led by huge gains in computer systems design; management, scientific and technical consulting services; and scientific research and development services. The fastest growth occurred in pipeline transportation of crude oil and in oil and gas extraction, which both expanded more than 240 percent from 2009 to 2013, but they still combine for fewer than 240 jobs in the state.

Despite the recession, several STEM manufacturing sectors also saw steady job growth in Minnesota, including basic chemical manufacturing; pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing; electrical equipment manufacturing; and resin, synthetic rubber, fibers and filaments manufacturing, which all increased more than 30 percent over the last decade.

Where IT's At

The state also saw steady job growth in information technology (IT), with both short- and long-term gains at software publishers; data processing, hosting and related services; and other information services, which includes Internet publishing, broadcasting and Web search portals. Combined, these three industries increased over 10 percent and now provide over 19,000 jobs in the state.

Not surprisingly, many of the top employing STEM careers in Minnesota are concentrated in the IT field. Based on employment estimates from DEED's Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, seven of the top 10 as well as 12 of the top 25 largest STEM Core occupations in Minnesota have an IT focus. Combined, they account for 88,640 jobs, or about 40 percent of the state's total STEM Core occupations (see Table 2).


Table 2

Top 25 Largest STEM Core Occupations in Minnesota

Occupational Title

SOC Code

Estimated
Employment,
2014

Median Hourly
Wage, 2014

Median Annual
Wage, 2014

Projected
Change
in Jobs,
2012-2022

Projected
Total
Job Openings,
2012-2022

Total, All Occupations

0

2,688,580

$18.15

$37,766

+7.0%

901,620

Computer Systems Analysts

151121

12,880

$38.70

$80,482

+17.0%

4,290

Computer User Support Specialists

151151

11,710

$23.02

$47,864

+11.0%

2,910

Software Developers, Applications

151132

11,260

$44.14

$91,813

+10.7%

3,030

Computer and Information Systems Managers

113021

9,160

$56.43

$117,369

+9.5%

2,240

Computer Occupations, All Other

151199

8,780

$34.47

$71,700

+9.5%

1,830

Software Developers, Systems Software

151133

8,690

$46.47

$96,659

+6.4%

1,660

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

151142

8,060

$35.85

$74,553

+4.3%

1,730

Industrial Engineers

172112

7,380

$38.77

$80,644

+4.7%

2,650

Mechanical Engineers

172141

6,660

$38.88

$80,877

+3.4%

2,310

Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Mfg., Technical and Scientific Products

414011

6,310

$40.77

$84,801

+2.0%

1,700

Computer Programmers

151131

5,700

$35.21

$73,238

-2.2%

1,640

Engineering Managers

119041

3,920

$59.85

$124,492

+2.3%

1,370

Civil Engineers

172051

3,800

$37.95

$78,944

+15.4%

1,430

Computer Network Architects

151143

3,790

$44.64

$92,845

+6.1%

820

Electrical Engineers

172071

3,400

$40.98

$85,237

+3.1%

1,030

Computer Network Support Specialists

151152

3,290

$28.83

$59,964

+1.7%

580

Industrial Engineering Technicians

173026

2,790

$24.55

$51,061

+0.5%

620

Database Administrators

151141

2,690

$40.78

$84,832

+11.6%

780

Web Developers

151134

2,630

$32.17

$66,905

+11.5%

680

Mechanical Drafters

173013

2,570

$26.49

$55,088

-4.0%

380

Civil Engineering Technicians

173022

2,450

$27.36

$56,909

-5.1%

470

Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists

191042

2,420

$26.74

$55,624

+11.2%

840

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians

173023

2,410

$25.80

$53,672

-7.4%

600

Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), DEED 2012-2022 Employment Outlook


These IT occupations comprise a large segment of the STEM landscape and should continue to grow in the future. According to DEED's 2012-2022 employment projections, information technology jobs are expected to increase by just over 9 percent in the next decade, about 2 percent faster than the total for all occupations.

The fastest-growing IT occupations are expected to be information security analysts, operations research analysts, computer systems analysts, and computer and information research scientists.

In addition to new jobs, many of these occupations will also have a large number of replacement openings - jobs that become open due to retirements or other existing workers leaving the labor force.

Billie Chock, an IT manager with General Mills, believes new and future graduates will play a critical role in Minnesota's workforce in the next decade. "They certainly will be major contributors," she says. "We need bright minds that are passionate about solving complex problems that span disciplines."

She says some of the challenges include finding new ways to use technology to help businesses succeed by utilizing data, automating processes, helping customers and consumers, and improving processes at work.

Cashing In

STEM Core industries and occupations are much higher paying than the jobs in all industries. As shown in Table 1, average annual wages in the STEM Core sectors were just over $85,500 in 2013, which was more than $35,000 higher than the total for all industries. Thirteen of the 33 sectors averaged more than $85,500 per year, including six industries that earned over $100,000 per year. And despite being much higher to start, wages increased faster in the STEM Core industries over the last decade, especially during the last four years.

Not every job in these industries, however, is in a STEM discipline. Though they have a higher concentration of technical occupations, many jobs in these industries are not STEM-related but still might be higher paying. Looking just at the list of STEM Core occupations, almost half (42) earned more than $75,000 per year, and all 90 earned more than the median annual wage for the total of all occupations. The 10 lowest-earning STEM occupations still earned an average of about $45,000 per year, while the top 10 highest earning STEM jobs all earned over $100,000 (see Table 3).


Table 3

Top 8 Highest-Earning STEM Core Occupations in Minnesota

Occupational Title

SOC Code

Estimated
Employment, 2014

Median
Hourly Wage,
2014

Median
Annual Wage,
2014

Projected
Change in Jobs,
2012-2022

Projected
Total Job Openings,
2012-2022

Total, All Occupations

0

2,688,580

$18.15

$37,766

+7.0%

901,620

Physicists

192012

60

$66.88

$139,121

+20.2%

50

Engineering Managers

119041

3,920

$59.85

$124,492

+2.3%

1,370

Computer and Information Research Scientists

151111

380

$58.49

$121,659

+13.4%

90

Computer and Information Systems Managers

113021

9,160

$56.43

$117,369

+9.5%

2,240

Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary

251032

720

$53.47

$111,218

+5.4%

150

Materials Scientists

192032

210

$52.56

$109,326

+4.5%

10

Natural Sciences Managers

119121

1,120

$52.51

$109,218

+5.1%

260

Biomedical Engineers

172031

1,040

$51.64

$107,404

+12.2%

420

Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), DEED 2012-2022 Employment Outlook




1"Exploring the High-Tech industry." STEM-Driven High-Tech Industry Taxonomy. Page 3. www.labor.idaho.gov/publications/Exploring_High-Tech_Industry.pdf

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