I am by no means the first person to make this point. But I was compelled to try and illustrate it after reading a report from Inside Higher Ed on this weekend’s gloomy gathering of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In short, job prospects for young science Ph.D.’s haven’t been looking so hot these last few years, not only in the life sciences, which have been weak for some time, but also in fields like engineering.
The graphs below, drawn from National Science Foundation data and some of my own calculations, depict Ph.D. employment at graduation. It’s not a perfect measure of the labor market for young science talent — ideally we’d have data on graduates nine months or a year out of school, since some people need a little extra time to job hunt. But looking at these figures over time, it seems pretty obvious that there’s no great run on trained scientists in this country.