The United States lost more than a quarter of its high-tech manufacturing jobs during the past decade as US-based multinational companies placed a growing percentage of their research and development operations overseas, the National Science Board reported Tuesday.
The rapid expansion of science and engineering capabilities in China and its neighbours pose an ever more formidable economic challenge to the United States, according to the group, with Asia rapidly boosting the number of engineering doctorates it produces and research dollars it spends.
The report comes as the Obama administration is seeking to make US manufacturing more competitive through engineering and innovation. In June, it announced its Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and sunk $500 million into the effort.
The number of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States has declined by 687,000, or 28% between 2000 and 2010, according to the report.
Although the long decline of manufacturing employment in the United States is often attributed to the cheaper wages in developing countries, China and developing countries in Asia have in recent years sought to lure more sophisticated manufacturing operations and better jobs by expanding their engineering prowess through government investment in education and research.
The decline in US manufacturing as a share of the nation's economy and employment over the past decade "is not solely due to low-wage competition," the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology wrote recently."We cannot remain the world's engine of innovation without manufacturing activity."
The National Science Board publication issued Tuesday found that other nations, by increasing their research and education spending, "challenge the world leadership role of the United States."
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