From a 2013 EPI report as highlighed in an article published in The American Prospect:

As the EPI report lays bare, the common wisdom about our STEM problem is mistaken: We are not facing a shortage of STEM-qualified workers. In fact, we appear to have a considerable STEM surplus. Only half of students graduating with a STEM degree are able to find STEM jobs.

The actual report not only talks about STEM in general, but also has a more detailed suvey in IT:

For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job.

In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32 percent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53 percent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations. These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry.

Anyway, since EPI appears to have been involved in a number of controversies, I'd like to know if this finding (whether to STEM overall of just IT) is corroborated by others. Furthermore, it appears that the data is from 2009 (see slide below), so close the peak of the last financial crisis. So, I'd also like to know if the finding is reasonably generalizable across the last one or two decades because the implications drawn from it (either in The American Prospect or EPI report itself) don't have much in the way of "buts" or circumstantial caveats.

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  • 4
    Personal anecdote so obviously can't be an answer, but I'm not suprised. The unemployment rate was at like 10% at the time, no one was hiring at all. I graduated May 2010 and had to take a T1 tech support/phone sales job just to start working.
    – DenisS
    Jun 11, 2018 at 21:19
  • See also skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/27592/5125
    – GEdgar
    Jun 11, 2018 at 21:21
  • @GEdgar: thanks for the link. Unfortunately the accepted answer there uses EPI to show that there's excess of STEM graduates... but at the same ignores EPI's finding that there's also excess of CS/IT graduates... preferring instead the BLS data for that... which substantially contradicts EPI in its conclusions. So I think that makes my skepticism even more founded. Jun 11, 2018 at 21:39
  • This report seems to assume that all graduates with a STEM major wanted to go into a STEM field—the source says less than 1/3 of IT majors not going into IT said it was because of a lack of jobs. And it's not clear to me how the data represents graduates who continue in academia (grad school, etc.), double-major in separate STEM categories or go into a different STEM category than their major.
    – Kevin
    Jun 11, 2018 at 22:24
  • 1
    Why is this tagged [immigration]?
    – jwodder
    Jun 12, 2018 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


(Partial answer) I found some corroborating evidence in a 2013 NSF survey. As summarized in a 2017 NYT article:

Unemployment rates for STEM majors may be low, but not all of those with undergraduate degrees end up in their field of study — only 13 percent in life sciences and 17 percent in physical sciences, according to a 2013 National Science Foundation survey. Computer science is the only STEM field where more than half of graduates are employed in their field.

Other than preserving the relative order (CS/IT > STEM), I can only conclude that the numbers vary widely depending on the source of data. The same goes for LBS stats which show a deficit of (qualified) graduates in IT/CS (but not other STEM fields), as detailed in the accepted answer to another question (pointed out by GEdgar in a comment above). And (although not in the purview of my question as formulated above) the relative ordering doesn't seem to hold in other countries, e.g. in Australia:

However, the Productivity Commission says STEM graduates fare poorly in the job market, apart from those who have studied healthcare, mining engineering and surveying. The outlook for mathematics and computer science qualifications are only slightly below average, however there are big gaps for graduates in life sciences, chemistry and the physical sciences.

Of those who do get work, many are in an unrelated field. About a quarter of people with science degrees say their qualifications are not relevant to their employment. The same is true for 30 per cent of people with information technology degrees. Instead, they are working in fields such as sales, administration and community work.

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