This must be my day to be cynical. For example, when I read this article about a race for science and technology workers, I immediately began looking for the fine print. And it was easy enough to find:
The centerpiece of Thursday’s summit was the results of a four-month study on local STEM issues. Conducted by Accenture in 2014 at the request of GLBRA officials, it provided a statistical snapshot on STEM jobs and instruction, and recommended a variety of strategies to help create a “pipeline” for STEM-educated workers.
Michael Loiero, a consultant at Accenture, noted that the Great Lakes Bay Region has a STEM-driven economy, with more than $3 billion in GDP driven by manufacturing and healthcare in 2012, and added that the region has a higher concentration of many STEM careers than the national average.
There’s plenty of finessing going on here. Quoting the amount of GDP generated by manufacturing and healthcare without breaking them out may be misleading. Between a third and half of all healthcare spending is government subsidy. Of course there’s a demand for it. Consumers aren’t paying full price for it. When you cut the price paid by consumers for practically anything in half, demand for it will spike.
Here’s a wild idea: let wages for science and technology workers rise. Limit H1B visas to where they’re actually needed rather than to where they’ll lower wages the most. Shine more light on what jobs are being demanded and what they’re actually paying. We already have thousands of unemployed and underemployed science, technology, engineering, and math workers. In a tighter labor market wages will rise and you’ll get more students.
Of course, that does highlight another problem: how is the Great Lakes region going to attract talent? If you were a bright, young STEM worker, would you rather live in San Jose or Grand Rapids? I seem to recall that Accenture’s old parent company, Arthur Andersen, had some difficulty in finding a partner who was willing to live in GR.
The old “Rust Belt” states need to find some ways of attracting the future’s workers. The present strategy of higher taxes and deteriorating standard of living isn’t working out so well.