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Senator KENNEDY. Very good, very helpful.
You have the estimates on the number of people—technical, scientific, and engineers—that are unemployed. You have some rough estimates. You have included that in the earlier part of your testimony, and then I see you have some attached. These are rather conservative estimates, as I understand it, aren't they! Could you tell us a little bit about them?
Mrs. VETTER. They come from a number of sources. As you know, the National Science Foundation recently completed a study on unemployed scientists—at least, those that had responded to the National Register in 1970. This is the best information we have on scientists as a whole. There is a similar study that has been completed in the engineering community which was done by the Engineering Manpower Commission for NSF, and I have used their data to get some gross figures on the engineers.
Nobody has brought up the problem of the new graduates. The only good study on what's happened to the new graduates is that of the chemistry graduates, and they do make up a substantial proportion of the scientists. The American Chemical Society through Dave Roethel, has piggybacked on the annual salary survey an unemployment survey on the new graduates, which will be reported in the November 1 issue of C and E News.
This is prepublication information that is attached and granting that every statistician in the world would throw up his hands in horror, I would admit that the only way I could get any kind of an estimate on the other graduates in science and engineering was to apply the same general statistics to that group on the assumption that chemistry is probably typical. The other groups have not made studies of unemployment among the 1971 graduates, but in order to get some sort of rough estimate of the nature of the size of the group we are talking about that's the source I used.
Senator KENNEDY. It just seems to me extraordinary that given the kind of testimony we have had earlier today, and in terms of conditions in my own State of Massachusetts, that we only have 3.4 percent of experienced engineers and 2.6 percent of experienced scientists unemployed.
Mrs. VETTER. Now, first of all, you have to recognize that this is a literal unemployment figure taken at a moment in time. I think the number is a little higher than that for scientists, now. If you take the engineering survey, for example, John Alden, who conducted the survey for the National Science Foundation, took another figure which represented to him engineers with employment problems. This included people who were doing nonengineering work but wished to be doing engineering work if they had an opportunity; people who were doing part-time consulting and were therefore not totally employed, but who had an employment problem. This raised his percentage up to, I believe it's 4.844.7 percent of all the engineers in this survey reported themselves as having employment problems in the sense that although they might be temporarily employed or even permanently employed, they were not employed in engineering but wished to be so, were seeking the opportunity for engineering employment. The size of the underemployed group, we are simply guessing at. Senator KENNEDY. Yes.
Mrs. VETTER. I have no idea what size it is, but I think it must be at least half again the size of the group that is literally out of work. We don't have good data.
Senator KENNEDY. When was this study done?
Mrs. VETTER. Right. The scientists survey was done in May and
Senator KENNEDY. Where? Do you make any judgments in terms of particular geographical area?
Mrs. VETTER. Oh, yes. The two coasts and the gulf have much more serious problems than the middle part of the country.
Senator KENNEDY. Does it give any indication of the number of job opportunities that are available to scientists and engineers? Does the study do anything to provide some kind of indication of such opportunities?
Mrs. VETTER. There are a number of things that are going on trying to find jobs for these people. The Labor Department is funding a study being run principally by the National Society of Professional Engineers—an engineers' register, which is really an engineering and scientists register, and they have had a lot of people register for it just as the Employment Service of the Department of Labor has had lots of people register. They are looking for jobs but the jobs aren't there.
It isn't that we need to move people from one part of the country to another; it's not that we have a great shortage in one section and surplus in another.
Senator KENNEDY. Well, where are the shortages!
Mrs. VETTER. I said, it isn't that we have great shortages in one place and surpluses in another. If there were, it would be simply a matter of moving people. The scientist and engineer community is highly mobile, perhaps more so than any other professional group in the Nation. They are accustomed to moving, to take advantage of opportunities, and to move where they are needed, but the jobs aren't there; they aren't somewhere else.
The people in Seattle who are out of work, and certainly, there is a dreadful unemployment rate up there, many of them would be willing to move-if not happy, but willing to move at least, from Seattle but where do you move them?
Senator KENNEDY. In the study, did they do any sort of long-term projections as to what they could estimate, what the employment opportunities would be for these groups?
Mrs. VETTER. The Department of Labor has made such projections up through 1980, and it's their opinion and belief that by 1980, we will have a slight shortage of engineers, an extreme shortage of physical scientists, and a slight excess of life scientists. There are other groups that they have made comparisons for, too.
Senator KENNEDY. Does the Labor Department say what we're supposed to do in the meantime?
Mrs. VETTER. No; not in these particular studies at least. These were statistical studies of demand. Of course, the National Science Foundation has done projection studies on Ph. D.'s in engineering and science-one, 2 years ago and one more recently in early 1971, in which they believe we'll probably have too many Ph. D.'s unless we start
using them in some nontraditional ways, but that particular study is, of course, limited to the Ph. D. level.
It's interesting to note, incidentally, in all these surveys, although we have unemployed Ph. D.'s, and perhaps they may be said to represent a greater loss if they are unemployed simply because there is a greater
investment in their education and in that one sense only, they may represent a greater loss, but the unemployment rates among the Ph. D.'s are not anything like as high as those among the bachelor's degrees. This is because, of course, we tend toward underemployment. The one with the higher degree may bump the next one down. I think this is the reason the younger people are continuing to go into graduate school and seek graduate degrees, despite today's market, because if you're going to have unemployment, you have less chance to be unemployed if you're a Ph. D. than if you're at the baccalaureate level.
Senator KENNEDY. We're going to have the NSF people up tomorrow in any event. They'll have an opportunity to get into the details of the study; as I understand it, they are the source for the unemployment statistics on the scientists and engineers!
Mrs. VETTER. Some of them, yes. The American Chemical Society is the source for a number of studies and the Engineering Manpower Commission for still others.
Senator KENNEDY. What could you tell us about the unemployment of engineers, say, over the period of the last 4 or 5 years? I mean, what kind of curve are we talking about?
Mrs. VETTER. It started the unemployment problem started in late 1967 among engineers, particularly, as the space program cut back. It certainly has gotten worse ever since, not just because of changes in defense and space, because normally these people would have been able to move over into other sectors of the economy, but because the economy itself was in trouble and because unemployment everywhere was rising. Certainly, the problem has gotten worse and as far as we can tell, it's still getting worse. We do have comparable figures a year apart from this past summer and things are about twice as bad as they were in the summer of 1970. In the summer of 1971, they have almost doubled.
Senator KENNEDY. What do you project in terms of the summer of 1972
Mrs. VETTER. I think we are almost on the bottom, but I'm not at all sure. A lot of people who are smarter at this than I, seem to feel we are about at the bottom of the layoffs and I think we are.
For example, in space, there will be more layoffs but there are more and more companies who are able to absorb ́even at lower salaries and sometimes at lesser positions—to absorb the people who are going off of particular projects. There are fewer mass layoffs going on than there have been and the number has been decreasing steadily for the past 4 or 5 months.
There are still mass layoffs to come, but I think we are past the worst of it, and if the economy as a whole picks up, whether anybody does anything specifically about the scientists or engineers or not, if the economy as a whole picks up, as I'm sure everybody hopes it will, then this
will do a great deal to help alleviate this problem. It won't solve it all by itself.
Senator KENNEDY. I wish I could be more hopeful about that. I have some knowledge on the situation up in Massachusetts. I wish I could be hopeful or optimistic about that, but I'm not sure that we can.
Mrs. VETTER. Well, Massachusetts, of course, has the disadvantage that Seattle does of having more than its share of brains and that's why it's suffering more at this point. This is the first of the real recessions that has hit the technological community and Massachusetts for a long time has had more than its proportionate share of these high quality, top level, highly trained technological people because of the nature of its commerce and its industry.
That means, of course, it suffers more. The problems in the State of Washington, for example, are confined almost entirely to the aerospace industry. It's the same kind of people—scientists and engineers but they are aerospace people because it has been a one-economy town, even a one-economy area through the State of Washington; where the problem is much broader in Massachusetts. It's diversified but it's diversified into technology and that's why you have, and as far as I can see, will continue to have a greater problem than other areas unless something like your bills is effected. In that case, of course, you get a great boom in your area because you have the talent. You have it stockpiled. Whether or not, it isn't that it was intentional or that anybody has done it that way, but you do have in Massachusetts a stockpile of brainpower, trained brainpower, which I would certainly like to see put to use as I'm sure you would.
Senator KENNEDY. I'm sure that these statistics were arrived at scientifically; there's no question about that. Nevertheless, based on my detailed knowledge of the situation in Massachusetts, I find these figures hard to believe.
You have got 13,000 scientists and 22,000 experienced engineers; and, of course, this wouldn't even include the new graduates. This would be the experienced people.
Mrs. VETTER. That's right, people who had been there before. It's unfortunately true that an awful lot of people, even those who are in trouble, will refuse to answer a questionnaire. To the degree that it's the unemployed people that refuse to answer, they, of course, throw the statistics. Boston is listed in the Engineering Survey as certainly among the high unemployment areas but it's listed with only 4.5 percent unemployment among engineers compared, for example, to a 9. percent rate in Seattle. It's almost halfway down the list of cities in terms of unemployment. Maybe it's because the Boston people don't answer the questionnaires; I don't know. I think that rate is low for that area and for what I have seen in that area, I think it's low.
Senator KENNEDY. I do, too; I do, too.
Thank you very much. You have been very helpful and we appreciate very much your working with us.
Tomorrow we are going to have the members of the National Science Foundation, who will be coming here and commenting on the legislation that is before the committee, and we are looking forward very much to their testimony. I hope any of you that can would join us tomorrow.
The subcommittee will stand in recess.
(Whereupon, the subcommittee was recessed at 12:39 p.m., to reconvene at 9:30 a.m., on Wednesday, October 27, 1971.)
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION CONVERSION
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1971
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 9:45 a.m. in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senator Kennedy. Subcommittee staff members present: Ellis R. Mottur, scientic adviser; and Roy H. Millenson, minority professional staff member.
Senator KENNEDY. The subcommittee will come to order. Today is the second day of hearings on the economic conversion bills before the subcommittee. Yesterday we heard some highly useful and highly moving testimony regarding the human dimensions of technical unemployment and the problems of achieving economic conversion. Four unemployed engineers from around the country told us of their personal experience, and the experience of their friends and associates, in adjusting to the widespread cutbacks in the Nation's technical programs. These experiences were corroborated by the research findings of Prof. Paul Thompson of Harvard Business School, who is directing a Department of Labor-sponsored study on unemployed technical personnel.
The testimony of these witnesses demonstrated several extremely important points. First, the bulk of the unemployed technical personnel are not less competent than those who have retained their jobs. For the most part, the unemployed engineers have a proven record of accomplishment over the years. Their layoffs are not related to their performance, but are the result of changing national programs far beyond their control.
Second, they have been encountering enormous problems in finding new professional employment in the present depressed market. And when they attempt to find nontechnical jobs, driving cabs, doing construction work, and the like, they are usually told that they are too old or too qualified.
Third, the existing Government assistance programs, in unemployment compensation, health insurance, placement assistance, et cetera, are not suited to the problems of this group which have the fixed commitments common to people earning $15,000 a year or more.
Fourth, this group has great potential to contribute to the Nation's present problems, if they are only given a chance to do so.