STEM jobs account for about 1 in 5 Kansas City area jobs

06/10/2013 9:27 AM

06/10/2013 9:27 AM

About one in five jobs in the Kansas City area and nationally require specified knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math.

According to a study released Monday by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, half of all so-called STEM jobs nationally require a bachelor’s degree.

The percentage requiring at least a bachelor’s degree is slightly higher – 52.2 percent – for STEM jobs in the Kansas City area, partly because of the high percentage of engineering companies.

Based on 2011 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the new report said the importance of STEM jobs in the economy has been somewhat hidden. That’s because the growing need for technical expertise in “blue-collar” jobs sometimes has been left out of STEM economic impact studies.

“Many nonprofessional jobs in manufacturing, health care, construction and mining industries could be considered STEM jobs,” Brookings said.

The report said nearly one-third of STEM jobs were filled by “craft professionals,” such as workers in the construction or vehicle maintenance trades.

‘University attendance is not the only path to a STEM career,” said Jonathan Rothwell, the report’s author.

Nationally, there were about 26 million STEM jobs, with about 193,120 in the Kansas City area, the report said. Those jobs paid well compared to non-STEM jobs.

For the metro area, the report said, the average pay for STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree was $80,680, compared to $64,128 for non-STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree.

Also, for STEM jobs requiring an associate’s degree or less, the average pay was $52,680, compared to similar non-STEM jobs’ average of $32,801.

Brookings researchers put those numbers in context, noting that the 2011 median household income for the Kansas City area was $53,376. (The median means that half of the area’s households earned more and half earned less.)

“Job growth, employment rates, patenting, incomes and exports are all higher in STEM-oriented economies,” Rothwell said.

His report ranked the Kansas City area as the 26th largest location of STEM jobs out of 100 metro areas in the nation. STEM jobs, as a share of total metro Kansas City area employment, ranked 39th out of the 100 areas studied.

For the Kansas City metro area, the ten largest STEM industries were, in descending order: Health diagnostics and treatment; computers; finance; construction; engineering; health technology; business operations; operations specialties; vehicle and mobile mechanics, installation and repair; and “other” management.

The report said more than 99,000 jobs in the Kansas City area required specified knowledge in engineering. In general, engineering jobs provided the highest average wages among STEM occupations requiring specified knowledge.

By a wide margin, the most common STEM occupation requiring less than an associate’s degree was in the nursing field.

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