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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 - 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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