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US Engineering Employment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Gerald Marschke University at Albany-SUNY


Holden Diethorn

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Holden Diethorn is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) with research interests in labor economics and the economics of science and innovation. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from SUNY Albany in 2020. His current work focuses on topics related to the STEM workforce including analyses of the returns to postdoctoral training, the impact of immigration policy on the career paths of foreign-born STEM doctorates, and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the STEM labor market.

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James Davis

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Andrew Wang

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This paper analyzes the employment trajectories of engineering workers---both workers in occupations formally classified as engineering and workers in occupations not formally classified as engineering but where engineering knowledge is important---during the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that the employment rate of workers in engineering occupations fell by 6.6 percentage points at the onset of the pandemic compared to a 13.1 percentage point drop among workers in non-engineering jobs, and that workers in jobs where engineering knowledge is important were less likely to suffer employment loss during the pandemic, regardless of whether their occupation is formally classified as a STEM engineering occupation. This suggests that engineering knowledge is beneficial in reducing a worker's unemployment risk during recessions. We also find that industries with the highest share of engineers as workers tended to experience smaller percentage declines in employment during the pandemic compared to overall US employment, although employment in aerospace and motor vehicle manufacturing industries remained over 10% below pre-recession employment as of 2021Q4.

Marschke, G., & Diethorn, H., & Davis, J., & Wang, A. (2022, August), US Engineering Employment During the COVID-19 Pandemic Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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