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Research Questions

  1. What are the leading indicators of the API 27-county region's STEM workforce, employment, and education?
  2. Which counties in the API region show fluctuation in energy and advanced manufacturing sectors?
  3. Is there evidence that local labor markets are adjusting to increases in demand for workers to fill STEM positions?
  4. Is the local talent pool graduating from high schools and colleges with skills and in fields that could be utilized in the STEM labor market?

This first of five annual reports focuses on employment and wages in energy and advanced manufacturing–related industries and on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education indicators in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API) region. Together, these reports will capture trends over the next four years to (1) inform the regional stakeholder community across the 27-county API region about which localities might have greater demand for educating or employing local talent in STEM careers and (2) guide API investments and collaborative work.

Key Findings

API Regional Trends in the Working-Age Population and in Wages and Employment in Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Sectors

  • The API county with the greatest growth in working-age population was Monongalia County, West Virginia, which grew by 29.2 percent from 2000 to 2013. At this same time, the working-age population in the United States grew by 13.6 percent. In all but five counties of the API region, the size of the working-age population decreased.
  • Median wages were relatively high in some suburban Pittsburgh areas but highest in portions of a West Virginia county that experienced high growth in its working-age population.
  • The utilities industry was the STEM-related industry category that provided the highest median wages in the region.
  • The occupations of engineering and architecture enjoyed the highest median wages of STEM-related occupations across all industries, but there was a wide range of median wages in the 27-county region.
  • The number of regional jobs in STEM-related industries and occupations increased, while those in other industries decreased.
  • West Virginia lagged behind Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the national average in mathematics and science assessment scores, with 76 percent of eighth graders scoring at basic or below, only 3 percent scoring advanced in mathematics, and more than three in four students scoring basic or below basic in science.
  • Ohio and West Virginia had high school graduation rates comparable to the nation, while Pennsylvania outperformed the national average. Graduation rates in the three API states, as well as nationally, improved by 2 to 3.5 percentage points between 2010-2011 and 2012-2013.
  • Ohio and Pennsylvania exceeded the nation in percentages of students gaining associate's degrees in STEM-related fields, while West Virginia trailed. All three states, and the nation, had roughly comparable percentages of students gaining bachelor's degrees in STEM-related fields.

This research was sponsored by the Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API) and conducted within RAND Education.

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