In a detailed report that compares the compensation and benefits for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) employees in the both the Federal and private sectors, it was found Federal employees have more advanced degrees, but make less money annually.

The study, conducted by the RAND corporation, an analysis was done to “conduct a comparison of salary and benefits for government professional engineers and scientists with those for workers in similar positions in the private sector.” The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services directed the Department of Defense, in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Energy, to conduct this study on STEM workforces.

“The authors compiled and analyzed workforce data from U.S. government sources and available literature to describe and compare trends in private- and public-sector STEM employment levels, unemployment rates, work hours, salary, and benefits,” said the report. “In this report, the authors examine why STEM workers are of special interest to national defense and the civilian economy.”

Among the key findings of the report include:

  • Federal STEM workers hold more advanced degrees than their private sector counterparts, but skew older in age;
  • There is more gender and racial/ethnic diversity in the Federal STEM workforce, but the private sector has a larger share of Asian and foreign-born workers;
  • Women and minorities face pay disparities in both Federal and private STEM workforces, but less so in Federal;
  • Private-sector STEM workers earn roughly $2,600 more annually than their Federal counterparts; and
  • Federal STEM workers work short house on average and are more likely to have access to benefits than private-sector STEM workers.

The report mentions that the current data collection process for this workforce information does have its limitations. According to the report, data sets with the best coverage for both sectors differ in how they conceptualize, collect, and report income.

Recommendations are made within the report that include investigating the pay disparities, hiring practices, and collecting data on income, among others.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.