The U.S. share of global science and technology activity has shrunk in some areas even as absolute activity has continued to grow, as China and other Asian countries have invested in science and engineering education and increased their research spending.
That’s one of the main takeaways of the "State of U.S. Science and Engineering" 2020 report, published by the National Science Board Wednesday. The report has historically been published every other year, but starting with this year's edition, the NSB is transitioning its format from a single report published every two years to a series of shorter reports issued more frequently.
The report found that employment in science and engineering has increased more rapidly than for the workforce overall, and now accounts for 5 percent of U.S. jobs.
Women accounted for just 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce in 2017, up from 26 percent in 2003. Underrepresented minorities made up just 13 percent of the scientific workforce in 2017, up from 9 percent in 2003 but below their share of the college-educated workforce.
Foreign-born workers account for 30 percent of all individuals employed in science and engineering-related occupations.
Global research and development expenditures have more than tripled since 2000, growing from $722 billion in 2000 to $2.2 trillion in 2017, fueled largely by growth in China. The U.S. and China together accounted for nearly half of all research and development spending -- 25 and 23 percent, respectively -- in 2017.
In the U.S., federal spending for research and development has increased since 2000, but the share of research and development funded by the federal government -- as opposed to businesses or other entities -- declined, from 25 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2017. Among higher education institutions -- which perform the largest amount of basic research, of which the federal government is the primary funder -- the share of research and development funded by federal sources declined from 57 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2017