Pipeline Assessment: Engineering Awards by State, 2011-2012

Posted on July 11, 2013 by Greg Chmura

In the region-to-region battle for jobs and investments, having a postsecondary training pipeline aligned with industry needs is a nice competitive advantage. When examining postsecondary awards data for engineers, for example, it is easy to see inequalities in the system that can contribute to shortages or surpluses in some regions of the nation.

In the 2011-12 academic year, an estimated 113,742 awards were granted in the United States that flow into careers in engineering occupations. (An aside: Chmura Economics & Analytics models the complex interaction between graduate supply and occupation demand. Through this model, every award is linked to an occupation for which it provides training. The occupation awards data cited here are the product of this modeling.) The map below shows the production by state for all engineers as well as five specific types of engineers—use the dropdown box to update the map.

Awards for Engineering Occupations, 2011-12

  • Awards
  • 0 to 344
  • 345 to 502
  • 503 to 1,239
  • 1,240 to 1,696
  • 1,697 to 2,624
  • 2,625+
Source: JobsEQ®

By far, the biggest producer of engineers is California with 14,292 awards in the 2011-12 academic year. Of course, this isn't terribly surprising since California is such a large state.

Before we go too far with this data, however, we're going to make two adjustments.

The first is to adjust for the number of awards granted to foreign students. Considering only awards at the bachelor's level and up, and specifically at programs in the 14.0000 engineering series (per the Classification of Instructional Program codes), 22% of these awards in the United States in the 2011-12 academic year were granted to foreign students.

By state, the number of foreign engineering students varies widely. On the low end we have Maine with just 3% of bachelor's and up engineering awards earned by foreign students. On the other end we have Illinois where close to a third of upper level engineering awards went to nonresident alien students.

Percent of Foreign Students Earning Engineering Awards, Bachelor's Degrees and Higher, 2011-12

  • % Foreign
  • 0 to 4
  • 5 to 9
  • 10 to 14
  • 15 to 19
  • 20 to 24
  • 25 to 29
  • 30+
Source: JobsEQ®

Of these foreign students, we'll estimate that approximately one in five will stay in the United States to work (for example, see this Brookings research).

For our second adjustment, to better reflect relative academic output, we can look at the "training concentration" which compares awards to the number of workers in an occupation within a region.

For example, in the last year the nation produced roughly one award for every fifteen engineers in the country (that is, counting all awards to U.S. citizens and 20% of awards to foreign students). In Michigan, by contrast, one award was produced for about every thirteen engineers. Therefore, we'd say Michigan's training concentration for engineers is 117% - or about 17% above the national average rate, with the national average set to equal 100%. On the other side of the spectrum we have Nebraska as an example with a 76% training concentration for engineers - this state is about 24% below the national average in engineering awards.

The below map shows training concentrations by state for engineers overall and for five specific engineering occupations. Here we can see that California's high production is actually a little under average in the nation for engineers overall. In the details, however, we see that California is above average in production of civil engineers (129% training concentration) but quite low in output for industrial engineers (47%).

Training Concentration, 2011-12

  • Concentration
  • 0% to 64%
  • 65% to 84%
  • 85% to 94%
  • 95% to 104%
  • 105% to 114%
  • 115% to 134%
  • 135%+
Source: JobsEQ®
This blog reflects Chmura staff assessments and opinions with the information available at the time the blog was written.