Monday, May 21, 2012

STEM education is key to growing Washington’s economy

Two new jobs reports show that Washington’s economic recovery is accelerating and that lawmakers are smart to invest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

One new report, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows Seattle had the eighth best job growth among the top 100 metro areas in the nation over the past 12 months – posting a healthy gain of 39,100 jobs.

More good news comes from the Forbes/Praxis Strategy Group study and the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ). They’re reporting that Seattle not only led the nation in high-tech and STEM job growth over the past decade, the Emerald City is still reaping the benefits of strong growth in high-tech and STEM jobs.

The Forbes study reported in the PSBJ shows that Seattle beat out rivals such as Silicon Valley to become the best city in the nation for high-tech jobs over the past decade, with a whopping 43 percent increase in high-tech employment and an 18 percent increase in STEM jobs. The study also showed Seattle’s leadership in high-tech jobs has held firm during the past couple of years. In fact, the study says, “the Seattle metro area has posted 12% tech job growth over the past two years and 7.6% STEM growth, handily beating the performance of Silicon Valley.”

And the good news in high-tech employment continues. The PSBJ points out “Forbes' findings seem to be backed up by recent announcements that Amazon is hiring 1,000 new tech workers in Seattle and that other big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, are expanding offices in the area.”

These numbers show we’re on the right path, but we can’t let up on the gas pedal just yet. Lawmakers like Rep. Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) continue to push for additional investments in STEM education. In the December special session, Rep. Maxwell sponsored bills that created competitive STEM grant programs and added STEM knowledge to the Professional Educators Standards Board certification process. Both bills received bi-partisan support before being signed into law.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.