Award Abstract #2032147

RAPID:Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of the U.S. STEM Workforce

NSF Directorate:
EHR - Directorate for Education and Human Resources
NSF Division:

Division of Human Resource Development

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Program Manager:

Earnestine Psalmonds

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Gerald R Marschke [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
Andrew J Wang (Co-Principal Investigator)


National Bureau of Economic Research Inc
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 021385398

NSF Program:
ECR-EHR Core Research
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This RAPID project addresses the need to maintain resilience in the STEM workforce during a pandemic. The researchers aim to assess which STEM jobs in which industries are more or less able to telework in the near term during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project also will examine the distribution of STEM occupations and wages within firms and compare across industries to gain insight into how disruptive COVID-19 will be at the workplace level. The research team will use large-scale population data, linked employee-employer data, and business establishment and firm microdata to model the 2008-2009 Great Recession and subsequent recovery and estimate the likely effects of COVID-19 recession on STEM workers and the STEM labor market. The research will provide policymakers with information and estimates that can shape policies to ameliorate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the STEM workforce.

The research goals are to (1) measure how much of the STEM workforce is able to continue work in which occupations and industries during the COVID-19 pandemic, (2) model the likely effect of the COVID-19 work disruption and economic recession on STEM workers and the STEM labor market, and (3) inform policies that can ameliorate the effects of pandemics on STEM workers. The research team will merge Occupation Information Network (O*NET) and American Community Survey (ACS) data to assess which STEM workers are potentially able to continue work during the COVID-19 pandemic and to what extent. To estimate the likely effects of COVID-19 recession and recovery on STEM workers, the team will construct a longitudinal dataset of workers and firms and augment the data with occupations that can support telework. The researchers will use the experience of the 2008-2009 Great Recession and subsequent recovery to evaluate the wider economic recession effects of COVID-19 to document factors that mitigate or exacerbate effects of recession on STEM employment. The research results can help guide policies that support telework and other changes in the structure of work and workplaces to enhance future workforce resilience.

The project responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is supported by the ECR: Building Capacity in STEM Education Research competition of the EHR Core Research Program (ECR) that funds fundamental research focused on STEM learning sand learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM professional workforce development.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.