Most researchers who have looked into the issue—those who don't receive their money from technology companies or their private foundations, anyway—say no. They cite figures showing that the STEM-worker shortage is not only a meme but a myth.
Yes, some information-technology workers are enjoying raises, and petroleum engineers, in demand because of the boom in fracking, are seeing their salaries explode.
But if you're a biologist, chemist, electrical engineer, manufacturing worker, mechanical engineer, or physicist, you've most likely seen your paycheck remain flat at best. If you're a recent grad in those fields looking for a job, good luck. A National Academies report suggests a glut of life scientists, lab workers, and physical scientists, owing in part to over-recruitment of science-Ph.D. candidates by universities. And postdocs, many of whom are waiting longer for academic spots, are opting out of science careers at higher rates, according to the National Science Foundation.
"This is all about industry wanting to lower wages," says Norman S. Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis. Mr. Matloff has investigated how IT employers benefit by raising the numbers of lower-paid foreign STEM laborers and by sending offshore the engineering and STEM manufacturing jobs of mostly older American workers. "We have a surplus of homegrown STEM workers now," he says. "We've had it in the past and we're likely to have it in the future."
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