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Science And Tech Today Are More Labor Intensive Than Agriculture

A technician checks a DC/DC half-bridge converter at a Continental production facility

Labor costs account for 76% of R&D spending for computer systems design and related services.

Credit: Getty Images

Labor costs today make up $372 billion or approximately two-thirds of U.S. business research and development expenditures, illustrating the importance of high-skilled talent to America's economy, according to a recent report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

In comparison, only about 13% of input costs on U.S. farms for agricultural production, on average, are labor-related.

"Across all industries, R&D relies on the creative input of skilled and often highly educated workers," with labor costs varying among industries, the report states. More than 80% of the information sector's R&D costs are for labor, according to the latest data.

Because science uses advanced instruments and tools, people often think it's capital intensive, says Mark Regets, a labor economist and a senior fellow at the National Foundation for American Policy. "But it is people that matter most."

From Forbes
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