Washington Update

NSB Releases Science and Engineering Indicators Report

By: Nabila Riaz
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
On March 13, the National Science Board (NSB) published its State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2024 report, providing insights into the state of the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise over time and in a global context. The report includes an interactive, State Indicators data tool, allowing for state comparisons across various S&E indicators.

The report details key findings from nine thematic reports within Indicators, including:
  • Research and Development (R&D): U.S. leads in research and development, with $806 billion in gross domestic expenditures on research and development (R&D) in 2021. Other top R&D-performing countries include China ($668 billion), Japan ($177 billion), Germany ($154 billion), and South Korea ($120 billion).
  • Publications: From 2003 to 2022, annual S&E publications increased by 36% in the U.S., while they increased approximately 10-fold in China and 8-fold in India.
  • STEM Workforce: The U.S. STEM workforce comprised 36.8 million people in diverse occupations in 2021 that require STEM knowledge and expertise and of these, with 19% being foreign-born individuals. Additionally, 43% of doctoral-level scientists and engineers were foreign-born.
  • Open Access: From 2003 to 2022, S&E articles published in open-access journals increased more than 50-fold.
  • Elementary and Secondary Education: Math test scores for U.S.-born elementary and secondary students are low, and from 2020 to 2023, the gap between students scoring in the 10th percentile and the 90th percentile widened to 109 points, the largest since the assessment began in 1978. 
In a policy brief accompanying the report, National Science Foundation’s  governing board highlighted an "accelerating STEM talent crisis" in the U.S. To remain globally competitive, the U.S. must implement policies to increase the flow of domestic talent into the STEM workforce across diverse career pathways. Additionally, policies should attract and retain STEM talent from around the world. Daniel Reed, NSB Chair and Presidential Professor of Computational Science at the University of Utah, emphasized the urgency, stating, “It is time to act, with vision and commitment, by expanding our domestic STEM worker pool, investing in critical science and technology areas, and building the necessary research and development infrastructure to ensure our continued national security and economic independence. The job is not done, and we neglect it at our peril.”