Demographic Diversity of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce in the U.S. Department of Defense
Apr 27, 2023
How do salary and benefits for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers in the federal government compare with those for private-sector STEM workers? Using a labor market analytic approach, the authors describe STEM workers in the two sectors, note differences from non-STEM counterparts, compare STEM salary and benefits, and make recommendations to improve data collection and evaluation for STEM hiring and retention.
A Comparison of the Federal Government and the Private Sector
|PDF file||3 MB||
Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.
In a companion report to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services directed the Department of Defense, in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Energy, to conduct a comparison of salary and benefits for government professional engineers and scientists with those for workers in similar positions in the private sector. Asked to undertake this analysis, RAND researchers interpreted "engineers and scientists" as the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforces in the public (federal civilian) and private sectors.
The authors compiled and analyzed workforce data from U.S. government sources and available literature to describe and compare trends in private- and public-sector STEM employment levels, unemployment rates, work hours, salary, and benefits. Where data were available, they also conducted subgroup analyses of these trends based on demographics, education levels, occupational categories, and geographic regions. In this report, the authors examine why STEM workers are of special interest to national defense and the civilian economy. They describe and compare the characteristics, employment trends, and pay levels of the private- and public-sector STEM workforces to their non-STEM counterparts. The report concludes with a discussion of how compensation is but one component of hiring and retaining qualified workers in the federal government and presents a set of policy and research recommendations.
Introduction to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in the Workforce
The Private-Sector STEM Workforce
The Federal Public-Sector STEM Workforce
Comparing Federal and Private-Sector STEM Compensation
The Department of Defense STEM Workforce
STEM Occupations and Crosswalks
Federal Policy Background
Detailed Pay, Income, and Comparisons for Federal and Private-Sector STEM Workers
This research was sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Civilian Personnel Policy) and was conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.