A new Department of Commerce report warns that certain aspects of the U.S. economy are losing their competitive edge compared to the rest of the world. "Our ability to innovate as a nation will determine what kind of economy — what kind of country — our children and grandchildren will inherit," says Commerce secretary John Bryson. The report, titled "The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States," says the U.S. ran a trade surplus in advanced technology products until 2002, but in 2010 the U.S. had an $81 billion trade deficit in this sector.
The report echoes many of the concerns found in a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report, which warned that the U.S.'s innovation outlook had worsened since the last report was issued in 2005.
The Commerce report was required as part of the America Competes Act, which allocates $50 billion for research funding and education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The report notes that since 1980, the federal government has provided just 57 percent of all dollars spent on basic research, compared to 70 percent before 1980. The report recommends immigration reform that allows foreign students to remain in the U.S. after receiving STEM training.
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