Science Shortages: Real or Not?

Shortages and surpluses in supply and demand for scientists and engineers seem to be recurrent. A January 17, 1953 headline in the New York Times read: “Lack of Scientists is Called Critical: 2nd Report of U.S. Foundation says Russia is Outdistancing Us in Engineering Graduates.” A Wall Street Journal article quoted in the Congressional Record (Vol. 110, February 27,. 1964) questioned whether there was really a shortage of scientists and engineers (S/E) that year. After Apollo's s

Edith Fairman Cooper
Aug 9, 1987

Shortages and surpluses in supply and demand for scientists and engineers seem to be recurrent. A January 17, 1953 headline in the New York Times read: “Lack of Scientists is Called Critical: 2nd Report of U.S. Foundation says Russia is Outdistancing Us in Engineering Graduates.” A Wall Street Journal article quoted in the Congressional Record (Vol. 110, February 27,. 1964) questioned whether there was really a shortage of scientists and engineers (S/E) that year.

After Apollo's successful missiQn to the moon in July 1969, budget cutbacks in space, defense and industry caused a surplus of S/E professionals that remained until around 1975, when job opportunities for engineering graduates improved. By 1980, concern about S/E shortages rose again, since many college students had bypassed those fields for non-technical areas in the 1970s. In response, industry began offering large salaries for such graduates—and the number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering awarded in...