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STEM Knowledge Aided Employment Resiliency Through the Pandemic

manager drafting plans

STEM jobs are likely to involve non-routine cognitive-analytical tasks, a factor in job resiliency.

Credit: Daniel McCullough / University at Albany

A study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper series shows that workers who use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge on the job had a much easier time retaining and acquiring jobs during the COVID-19 recession.

"STEM Employment Resiliency During Recessions: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic" found that STEM workers fared better than non-STEM workers over the course of the pandemic, with peak-to-trough declines in employment of 14 percent for non-STEM workers but only 5 percent for STEM workers. By late 2021, the STEM workforce had fully rebounded, though employment remains down for non-STEM workers.

The importance of STEM knowledge to one's job explains 27% and 48% of the relative resiliency of overall STEM employment and college-educated STEM employment, respectively, during COVID-19, the study says.

The researchers merged detailed data on job characteristics by occupation onto a federal dataset that tracked workers monthly. The team quantified how differences in job attributes, worker characteristics, and COVID exposure contributed to the better employment outcomes of STEM over non-STEM workers during the period.

From University at Albany
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