New research has shown that workers are in high demand to fill jobs requiring skills in science, technology, engineering and math, and that those positions take longer than non-STEM jobs to fill. To develop the study, the Brookings Institute examined data on Internet employment ads from Burning Glass, a Boston-based analytics firm.

STEM jobs harder to fill
Brookings found that STEM jobs can take several times longer to find employees for than positions not requiring the same skills. The time that it took for the spots to be filled also depended on the level of education needed for them.

For example, it took an average of 50 days to find a qualified match for STEM jobs that required a graduate degree in the first quarter of 2013, while those that had no education requirement took an average of 34 days to fill. Both of those job types took longer to fill than their non-STEM equivalents. Jobs with the highest education requirement, but not calling for STEM skills, took an average of 43 days to fill, while those with no minimum required education took 30 days. In total, the study looked at 1,192,438 job ads, 480,903 of which were for STEM-related positions, to determine these figures.

More jobs, more graduates
The difficulty in filling STEM positions is likely to continue into the future, though the degree of trouble in finding workers is unknown. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the number of college graduates from related majors is increasing, but so are the number of relevant job openings. Between 2003 and 2012, the number of degree awarded in STEM disciplines grew 55 percent, from 1.55 million to 2 million, the study found. Degrees awarded in non-STEM fields grew 37 period in the same span.

Over roughly the same time period, the number of jobs in STEM fields increased 16 percent, growing from 14.2 million positions in 2004 to 16.5 in 2012.

Pay rises with positions
Wages were found to increase along with employment opportunities and new graduates. In 2004, the average wage for STEM positions was $78,300 per year. By 2012, the average salary had risen to $82,600 per year. The largest wage increase was seen in health care professions. Between 2004 and 2012, salaries in the medical field increased from $69,400 per year to $74,900 per year.

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