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United States sheds high-tech jobs

The United States lost more than a quarter of its high-technology manufacturing jobs over the last decade, according to a new report from the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body for the National Science Foundation.

During the same period, US multinational corporations rapidly expanded the number of their research and development (R&D) jobs held overseas, according to the Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 report. The proportion of US multinationals’ R&D employment outside the United States increased from 16 percent in 2004 to 27 percent in 2009, contrasting with a very modest growth in R&D employment in the United States by foreign companies.

In a statement, the NSB’s José-Marie Griffiths said the world had changed dramatically in the past decade. “Other nations clearly recognise the economic and social benefits of investing in R&D and education, and they are challenging the United States’ leadership position,” said Griffiths. “We are seeing the result in the very real, and substantial, loss of good jobs.”

On a slightly more positive note, the NSB report highlighted that job losses from the 2007-2009 recession were less severe for scientists than for the US workforce as a whole, and that in 2010 the median pay for scientists and engineers was more than twice that of the median income for all US workers ($73,290 compared with $33,840).

Other key figures released by the NSB include the following:

–  State funding for the top 101 public research universities in the United States declined by 10 percent between 2002 and 2010

–  In China, the number of natural science and engineering degrees rose from 280,000 in 2000 to one million in 2008, and the number of doctorates awarded in these fields in 2008 (26,000) exceeded the number earned in the United States

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