Although R&D workers account for just over 1 percent of total business employment in the Unites States, they play a vital role in creating the new ideas and technologies that keep companies competitive, create new markets and spur economic growth.
The three largest industry groups in terms of domestic R&D employment in 2013 were:
- Software publishing (181,000 R&D workers)
- Pharmaceuticals and medicine (117,000)
- Semiconductors and other electronic components (109,000)
Large companies dominated R&D employment, accounting for two-thirds of the total 1.5 million workers.
Women accounted for one-quarter of the 1.5 million total R&D workers, consistent with their underrepresentation in science and engineering fields of study.
The fields that saw the highest rates of representation for women were pharmaceuticals and medicine, as well as scientific R&D services, a category largely made up of contractors that assist pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies.
Industries with large numbers of employees but low representation of women — including software publishing and computer and electronic products — typically employ R&D workers from educational fields such as engineering and computer science, areas where women have historically had low participation rates.
Two-thirds of business R&D employees in the U.S. were scientists, engineers or R&D managers, and the remainder were technicians or other support staff.
For more information, including a full breakdown of worldwide, domestic and foreign R&D workers by field of industry, read the full report.