The US has both an overabundance and shortage of STEM workers — here's how

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Over the years, numerous articles have lamented the lack of STEM workers, while others have bemoaned the excess number of workers in STEM fields, according to The Wall Street Journal. But which hypothesis is true?

In 2005, the National Innovation Initiative touted the need for more STEM employees. A National Academies study — "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" — stated a similar opinion in 2007, as did a 2012 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

However, in 2007, Michael Teitelbaum, a former Sloan Foundation vice president, cited the opposite opinion in his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, claiming "there are substantially more scientists and engineers graduating from U.S. universities than can find attractive career openings in the U.S. workforce." A 2013 IEEE Spectrum article posited a similar view.

So which is it — a STEM shortage or a STEM overabundance? Both, according to a 2015 article by Yi Xue, an MIT graduate student at the time, and MIT professor Richard Larson, PhD.

Aptly titled "STEM crisis or STEM surplus? Yes and yes," the article claims that the "STEM labor market is heterogeneous." It simply depends on the field. In academic settings, there's an excess of STEM PhDs, while in governmental and private job sectors, there are more apparent shortages of STEM PhDs.

"The answer is that both exist," the article states. "As our society relies further on technology for economic development and prosperity, the vitality of the STEM workforce will continue to be a cause for concern."

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