Analysis: Florida among national leaders in total science and engineering employment, but by ratio falls way behind

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Florida is among the US states with the greatest geographical concentration of science and engineering (S&E) employment, according to a report just released by the National Science Foundation using data from the US Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey.

Predictably, California, Texas and New York together accounted for more than one-fourth of all S&E employment in the US; and Florida, along with Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts and Ohio together accounted for nearly another one-fourth of S&E employment nationwide.

That sounds great for Florida, but doesn’t tell the whole story. The NSF report doesn’t break data down to show S&E jobs as a percent of total employment in each state.  Without that, all the data says is that California, Texas, New York and Florida are really big.

I ran the numbers to see how these big states really compare when it comes to per-capita S&E employment.  In short, not so well.

On average, about 4.1% of all US jobs are categorized as S&E.  Not counting DC, where the ratio of S&E jobs is off the chart at 27.6%, Massachusetts has the highest ratio at 6.6%, followed by Maryland (6.4%) and Virginia (6.15%).  California comes in at 8th, at 4.9%; Texas at 20th (4%), New York at 27th (3.7%), and Florida at a dismal 42nd, with just 2.9% of jobs defined as S&E.

While better than Mississippi (1.7%), Arkansas (1.9%), and Nevada (2.5%), Florida’s ratio of S&E jobs is lower than many competitors: Alabama (2.9%), Tennessee (3%) and Georgia (3.7), to name a few.

Karen Cyphers, PhD, is a public policy researcher, political consultant, and mother to three daughters. She can be reached at