higher ed

Useful Stats: Doctorate recipient labor force and R&D activities by field, 2015-2019

The overall employment outlook for the recipients of doctorate degrees earned at U.S. institutions has improved from 2015 to 2019, while the research activities conducted by these highly trained and educated individuals has started to shift away from basic and applied research activities towards activities focused on design and development. Doctorate recipients play an essential role in developing the knowledge base leveraged in creating new technologies and companies in the innovation economy. Understanding the employment trends of this vital group can help in crafting programs and policies to strengthen local innovation economies.

State leaders zero in on recovery in budget proposals, state addresses

As state budgets move into the legislatures for final negotiations and approvals, the last of the governors have addressed their constituents and put forth their proposals. While a renewed sense of hope is seeping into the latest addresses, governors are still cautious and guarded in proposing new programs. Broadband, small business, education and workforce initiatives continue to be among the innovation-related initiatives announced by the state leaders, with the intent that those efforts will also boost the economic recovery of the states.

Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D expenditures and personnel in nonmetropolitan areas, 2019

Although the nation’s nonmetropolitan economies are less reliant on the R&D activity performed by institutions of higher education than the economies of urban areas, researchers in some rural areas show levels of higher education R&D (HERD) expenditures per R&D employee that are on par, or even exceed, their urban counterparts. Policy makers may wish to consider and prioritize the relative “outsized” importance of HERD funding and related research personnel in future policy decisions and public investments that are geared toward select smaller communities and rural places.

Useful Stats: R&D Personnel at Institutions of Higher Education by Metropolitan Area, 2019

The R&D performed at colleges and universities is an important driver for the innovation economy — generating new knowledge, spurring invention, training STEM talent, and supporting economic development. This edition of SSTI’s Useful Stats analyzes metropolitan-level data for 2019 from the National Science Foundation on higher education R&D (HERD) expenditures and personnel. Nearly 981,000 individuals in higher education across the U.S. were classified as R&D personnel in 2019. As shown by the green shading in the interactive map below, the metropolitan areas with the greatest total number of HERD personnel in 2019 were Baltimore, Maryland* (44,323); New York-Newark-Jersey City (43,103); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California (35,796); Boston-Cambridge-Newton (35,587); and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (27,147).

Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D intensity by metro, 2019

Metropolitan areas in the U.S. with fewer than 370,000 residents are more likely to be more economically reliant on R&D performed by colleges and universities than larger metros, according to new SSTI analysis. Three data points are used to consider how R&D at institutions of higher education is impacting a region’s economy: NSF’s Higher Education R&D (HERD) data on expenditures at individual institutions; metro area Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis; and population estimates from the Census Bureau. The resulting analysis shows that despite larger metro areas producing a greater total amount of HERD, they are typically less reliant on these expenditures directly powering their economies.

Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D expenditures by state and field, 2019

Given higher education’s role in generating the knowledge that catalyzes innovative new technologies developed by high-growth startups, R&D conducted at institutions of higher education is one of the most important metrics for evaluating an area’s innovation economy. This edition of Useful Stats examines NSF’s recently updated Higher Education R&D (HERD) survey, finding that most states, although not all, experienced growth in HERD expenditures from 2018 to 2019. This analysis also examines 2019 state HERD expenditures by R&D field, finding that life sciences accounted for the lion’s share of HERD spending in every state except Alaska, typically followed by either engineering; the physical sciences; or the geological, atmospheric, and ocean sciences.

USCCF calls for a paradigm shift in financing a competitive workforce

At a critical junction for the American workforce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) has launched a new initiative to develop new models for investment in the workforce of the future. Partnering with Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Talent Finance initiative advances a new public-private approach to talent development that is intended  to address the challenges and requirements of the new economy — one that competes on talent. In the wake of the pandemic’s upheaval of the economy, workers are facing greater uncertainty and the prospect of jobs that may not return.

Useful Stats: PhD recipients in science and engineering by state

An important element of a region’s innovation community is its knowledge capital, and one way to try to determine a locality’s knowledge capital is to examine the number of individuals receiving research-based doctorate degrees in the science and engineering (S&E) fields. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently updated their Survey of Earned Doctorates with data for the 2018-2019 academic year. For the period ranging from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, the number of total PhDs awarded increased nationally by 1.1 percent over the previous academic year to 55,703. The update also shows that the number of degrees awarded to recipients in S&E fields was 42,980. SSTI’s analysis explores the total number of S&E PhDs awarded per state, as well as the number of S&E PhDs per 100,000 state population.

First-year earnings and debt for 37,000 college majors at 4,400 institutions

Investing in a college education comes with expectations of good returns on the investment. A recent analysis by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that first-year earnings for the same degree and major can vary by as much as $80,000 at different colleges. And while graduates from more famous, selective colleges have higher earnings in many instances, such is not always the case.

Data indicates decreased funding for higher ed points to worsening outcomes for students

In addition to decreasing enrollment numbers at both two- and four-year institutions of higher education, detailed in an earlier SSTI Digest story, higher ed is facing other threats from looming state budget cuts. While enrollment numbers are still in flux, many universities are already making drastic budget reductions, and that pain will ultimately land on students, which could impact educational attainment and student debt for years.


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