With a rising labor force, America is seeking to attract the best engineers and keep up with technological changes that require more work.
As the tech boom continues, the need for the highly skilled engineers is growing.
In a new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), engineers get just a 4% pay cut when compared to the average wage for full-time workers, a difference that is significant.
“We believe the pay disparity between engineers and the rest of the workforce is even greater, and it’s because of the amount of time and effort engineers spend on their jobs,” said Robert Smith, NIST’s vice president of engineering and principal investigator on the report.
Engineers typically spend 5.8 hours a week on a job.
In contrast, the average full-timers work 7.7 hours.
“It’s a bit surprising that they’re doing so little,” Smith said.
“And it’s even more surprising that engineers are paying less than their counterparts in other industries.”
The NIST study was released Monday as part of the National Engineering Competitiveness Strategy, a major effort by the U.S. Department of Commerce to drive innovation in the nation’s engineering workforce.
The study’s findings come as the country is grappling with the opioid epidemic.
In 2016, the rate of overdose deaths among the U-18 age group reached nearly 25,000 per day, up from 15,000 in 2017.
Meanwhile, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in September found that the government’s funding of colleges and universities to recruit, retain and promote engineers has grown rapidly in the past five years.
The increase in funding has allowed for the creation of new engineering programs, which are expected to help boost salaries of the nations most skilled engineers.
In addition to its own research, NIST studies pay trends at large corporations and the federal government.
The report comes as the nation struggles with the ongoing opioid crisis and an expected rise in heroin use.
In October, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report that concluded that the opioid crisis will continue to pose challenges for the economy.
As a result, the NAS urged policymakers to ensure that all stakeholders — the U.”s workforce, manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, and policymakers — are working together to prevent the crisis from becoming a public health crisis and to protect our communities from the adverse effects of opioid use.”
“This is not a question of whether we should continue to pay our engineers,” Smith told NBC News.
“The answer is yes, we should.
But we have to do it in a way that is consistent with the best interests of our economy.”
NIST is one of several federal agencies that have studied the issue.
The National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds the National Science Education Program (NSEP), recently released a report entitled, “Is the U .s Engineering Industry Growing Faster than in the Past?”
The report found that over the past decade, the U”s engineering workforce has grown at a rate of almost 3.3% annually.
In 2020, the workforce represented about 6% of the U,”s gross domestic product, which is a measure of national output.
The U.s manufacturing sector is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2021, according to the NAS report.