Which States are Prioritizing STEM Education for Manufacturers?

by Josh Bays, on Oct 24, 2017 2:07:17 PM

Among the principal concerns of manufacturing companies seeking to expand, consolidate or relocate their operations is their ability to locate plants in regions that offer the education infrastructure capable of producing qualified talent on a long-term basis. Whether it is technical talent such as assemblers, machinists or maintenance technicians, or engineering talent in any field, companies are focusing on metro areas that have significant education program offerings in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).  

Site Selection Group, a global location advisory, economic incentive and corporate real estate services firm, provides specialized labor analytics to our manufacturing clients in order to mitigate their hiring risks. One specific focus when assessing a pipeline of talent for production-oriented clients is to understand a market’s capabilities in producing students at all attainment levels with STEM educations.

Site Selection Group evaluated the most recent data from the Department of Education to compare the concentration of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by state. In addition, Site Selection Group evaluated which states have experienced the highest growth in graduates from the prior year. STEM degrees for this analysis included mathematics and statistics, physical sciences, biological sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, science technologies, computer and information sciences, agricultural sciences, and natural resources and conservation.

Total STEM graduates follow overall population
The interactive map below shows how each state ranks in terms of the total number of STEM graduates from the 2016 academic year (you can hover or select a state for more detail). Similar to the previous year’s data, California is the No. 1 producer of STEM graduates with more than 80,000 students graduating this past year. In addition, the next six states with the most STEM graduates remained unchanged (Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio).


States in the Northeast have the largest increase in STEM graduates
Although the state of Washington experienced the highest increase in STEM graduates from the previous year with 18% annual growth, the next six high-growth states are all in the Northeast. Of the 50 states, only six experienced negative annual growth in STEM graduates from the previous year. The map below shows the annual growth rate for all states.

Which states are taking STEM most seriously?
Although there are several indicators that companies can use as a proxy for the priority that states place on STEM education, one meaningful indicator is the number of completing STEM students relative to the total completing student population. Based on the latest data, the states with the highest percent of STEM completions relative to total completions does not seem to be correlated to overall growth or geography. The interactive map below shows the states with the highest concentration of STEM graduates.


In any location search, understanding the broad educational environment in a state is an important preliminary consideration. Analyzing the specific schools and programs offered within a target market, as well as tailored industry partnerships for new and expanding companies are also critical considerations. An experienced site selection consultant should easily be able to integrate this into your next site search.

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