A “troubling decline” in the number of US citizens training to become scientists and engineers is creating an “emerging and critical problem” for the United States, according to a new report by the by the National Science Board, the independent government panel that oversees and sets policy for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

If current trends continue, the number of US citizens capable of filling a growing number of challenging science and engineering (S&E) jobs will be only level, at best, says the report, An Emerging and Critical Problem of the Science and Engineering Labor Force. “These trends threaten the economic welfare and security of our country,” the NSB writes.

The United States is in “a long-distance race to retain its essential global advantage” in S&E, NSB chairman Warren M. Washington said earlier this week at a news conference. “For many years, we have benefited from minimal competition in...

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