Summary: The shortage of STEM workers is a zombie myth too politically useful to die. But here’s data that should kill it. Worse, it implies we might soon see a surplus of highly educated workers, undercutting the more education as a solution to automation story. We’ll need to consider more radical ideas.
“While there are over 500,000 computing jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., only 42,969 computer science students graduated from U.S. universities into the workforce last year.”
— “Computer Science in K-12 Classrooms” by the Computer Science Education Coalition, one of the many lobbying groups funded by corporations to ensure cheap labor. Median wages for people with PhDs in computer science were $121,300 in 2013, down 7% from 2008. There is no shortage, even in this hottest of fields.
Wages show the supply & demand for people with Ph.D.s.
Their wages are falling, so there is no shortage.
For years corporations and their paid propagandists at think-tanks have bombarded us with news about the shortage of workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which will cripple America in the 21st century. Looking to the future, we’re told growth in these fields would offset some of the massive unemployment from automation.
Oddly, despite the ludicrously high numbers of unfilled jobs reported, wages in these fields have not been rapidly rising (excerpt in a few hot specialties, as it takes time for students to graduate into them). Has the law of supply and demand been repealed? No, since not only is there no shortage, but even Ph.D.s in these fields are in excess supply and seeking employment in other fields, or at jobs in their field not requiring their level of training.
Worse, the data suggests that in the future we might have an oversuppy of highly educated workers (the large surplus of attorneys might be the exemplar of what’s to come).
What we see here is corporations using the news media and government to ensure an ample supply of cheap skilled workers. An entire movement has been built on this fake story.
Here’s the latest of the articles presenting the facts about higher education in the second decade of the 21st century.
“Job-Seeking Ph.D. Holders Look to Life Outside School”
by Douglas Belkin in the Wall Street Journal
“New doctorate holders are grappling with dwindling employment prospects.”
“…The percentage of new doctorate recipients without jobs or plans for further study climbed to 39% in 2014 from 31% in 2009, according to a National Science Foundation survey released in April. Median salaries for midcareer Ph.D.s working full time fell 6% between 2010 and 2013.
“The reason: supply and demand. Production of doctorates in the U.S. climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070. That surge has come as more Americans see a postgraduate degree as a hedge against stagnating wages and unemployment in an economy demanding increasingly specific skills and expertise.