The National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences recently released a report indicating that the overall unemployment rate of scientists and engineers in the United States declined from 3.2 percent in 2003 to 2.5 percent in 2006. Unemployment rates for the entire U.S. workforce were 6.0 percent in 2003 and 4.7 percent in 2006. The report also stated that the total number of scientists and engineers in the US increased by nearly 1 million between 2003 and 2006. During this period, the unemployment rate for the broad category of biological scientists decreased by 0.3 percent, from 2.4 percent to 2.1 percent. Diverging from the overall trend, however, were environmental life scientists for whom the unemployment rate increased by 1 percent. Within the broad category of biology, agricultural scientists saw a marked improvement in employment with a 2006 unemployment rate of 1 percent; roughly 4.4 percent better than the 2003 number.

The outcome for social scientists was also less bright during the 2003 to 2006 period. During this time, there was a 2.6 percent increase (not statistically significant) for economists and a 4 percent increase among political scientists.


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