If you want to know where the jobs are, just look at where the money goes. And when it comes to industrial R&D, the money—hence, R&D employment—is concentrated in just a few states and metropolitan areas, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.
The most recent data, from the 2011 Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS), shows that five states—California, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, and Michigan—accounted for almost half the nation’s company-paid R&D. The top 10 states—adding New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut—produced 70% of the R&D that U.S. companies financed. Pharmaceuticals and medicines, the largest R&D industry, accounted for 17% of the national total.
California had 28% of U.S. company-paid R&D, spread across a diverse portfolio. California ranks first in communications equipment, computer systems design, measuring and control instruments, computer and peripheral products, semiconductor components and machinery, software publishing, and pharmaceuticals and medicines. Four of the 10 leading states, on the other hand, each have a dominant industry responsible for the lion’s share of its R&D: software in Washington, automobiles in Michigan, and pharmaceuticals in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Business R&D financed by the federal government also shows high geographic concentration, with five states—California, New York, Virginia, Florida, and Maryland—doing 60% of the work that BRDIS could associate with a particular state. Business R&D done by companies but paid for by other entities—not the companies and not the federal government—was also concentrated, with California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and Michigan accounting for 47% of the total.
Within each state, business R&D is concentrated in particular metropolitan areas. Leaders include the Bay Area of California, Seattle/Tacoma, greater Los Angeles, greater Boston (including Providence, Rhode Island), and New York/Newark. These metropolises “are each home to multiple world-renowned research universities,” the report notes. The universities in these areas, “along with large preexisting companies, may foster the creation of new R&D-performing companies in their locales through technology transfer programs and the training and education of future company employees.”
There are science jobs everywhere—but in much of the country, they’re thin on the ground. Scientists living in or near areas with a high concentration of relevant industries have far more job opportunities than scientists elsewhere. Then again, it only takes one.
The report includes information on the R&D performance of more than 20 metropolitan areas. You can read it here.