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Federal Employment of Scientists and Engineers Remained Steady from 2003 to 2005

NSF 09-312 | March 2009 | PDF format. PDF  

by Steven Proudfoot[1]

U.S. federal government data show little change in the number of scientists and engineers the government employed from 2003 to 2005—a net increase of 1.5%, or 3,127 individuals.[2] Only the Department of State showed a double-digit percentage increase in its employment of scientists and engineers. Nine agencies showed decreases in the numbers of scientists and engineers employed during that time (table 1).

TABLE 1. Federal scientists and engineers, by agency: 2003–05.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Overall, the number of scientists increased 2.5% and the number of engineers 0.1%. Within the major science occupational groups, physical scientists' numbers were the only ones to show a decrease (-2.0%). For engineers, civil and industrial engineers decreased 4.4% and 4.8%, respectively (table 2).

TABLE 2. Federal scientists and engineers by major occupational group: 2003–05.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

Federal Scientists and Engineers by Demographic

  • Race/Ethnicity. Employment in federal science and engineering (S&E) jobs grew among all race/ethnicity categories, with Hispanics (8.1%) and blacks (6.4%) showing the largest percentage increases (figure 1).

    FIGURE 1. Percentage change in number of scientists and engineers employed by federal agencies, by race/ethnicity: 2003–05.

      Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

  • Sex. The number of women in both federal science and federal engineering jobs increased about 6% from 2003 to 2005, with federal employment of male scientists and engineers remaining relatively stable (table 3).

    TABLE 3. Federal scientists and engineers by sex: 2003–05.

      Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

  • Age. The aging of the federal S&E workforce continued, with increases in all age groups 45 years and older and decreases among 35–44-year-olds. Workers age 45 and older constituted 57.8% of all federal scientists and engineers in 2005, up from 55.4% in 2003 (table 4).

    TABLE 4. Federal scientists and engineers by age: 2003–05.

      Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

  • Location. The West South Central geographic division showed the largest percentage growth in federal S&E employment, with an increase of 4.2%. All the other areas remained relatively stable in numbers of federal scientists and engineers employed during the period (table 5).

    TABLE 5. Federal scientists and engineers by geographic division: 2003–05.

      Table 5 Source Data: Excel file

Data Sources and Limitations

Data for Department of Defense (DOD) agencies are from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), available at http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/. Data for federal agencies that are not part of the DOD are from the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF) of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). In prior years, data for all agencies included in this report were obtained from a single source, the CPDF. Because data were obtained from two sources for this report (the DMDC and the CPDF), data may not be strictly comparable to that published in previous Federal Scientists and Engineers reports.

For further information on data quality, survey methodology, and error analyses on the data provided to the National Science Foundation by OPM, refer to FedScope at http://www.fedscope.opm.gov/datadefn/acpdf.asp. OPM federal civilian workforce statistics are available at http://www.opm.gov/Statistics_Information_Instructions/.

The full set of detailed tables related to this InfoBrief is available in the report Federal Scientists and Engineers: 2003–05 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf09302/. For more information on the data in this InfoBrief, please contact the author.


[1]  Steven Proudfoot, Human Resources Statistics Program, Division of Science Resources Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington VA 22230 (sproudfo@nsf.gov; 703-292-4434).

[2]  This report presents data on scientists and engineers employed by the U.S. government during the years 2003 through 2005. This population consists of individuals in selected white-collar civilian occupational groups who hold at least a bachelor's degree and who the agencies had indicated were hired into science and engineering occupations.

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics
Federal Employment of Scientists and Engineers Remained Steady from 2003 to 2005
Arlington, VA (NSF 09-312) [March 2009]

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