2 posts categorized "Immigration"

Foreign students helping to meet demand for STEM graduates

Nationwide and in the district, there’s widespread concern that colleges and universities aren’t producing enough STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers.

Whether or not the district faces a STEM crunch—an inadequate supply of STEM graduates to meet employer demand—students from other countries account for a significant and rising share of STEM degrees awarded by higher education institutions in the region.

In 2012, about 7 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded by district institutions in STEM fields such as computer science and engineering went to international students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (see chart). There was marked variation among states, with North Dakota posting a foreign-awards rate almost five times higher than South Dakota's. The U.S. average was 5 percent.

The share of STEM bachelor’s degrees earned by international students has increased since the Great Recession, outpacing overall growth in foreign four-year degrees. The proportion of STEM master’s degrees and doctorates earned by foreign students is much higher—about 40 percent districtwide—but has declined slightly over the past decade.

International college enrollment has risen in the district since the mid-2000s, slowed only briefly by the recession. Many foreign students, including those from countries such as China and Korea that score high in math and science on international tests, opt to pursue STEM majors. U.S. students are less likely to declare majors in STEM fields—hence, efforts by educators, employers and others to increase the number of homegrown STEM graduates.

For much more on STEM education and international students, watch for the upcoming April issue of the fedgazette.

Foreign STEM degrees -- 3-12-14

In North Dakota's oil patch, a housing gusher

Housing contractors in northwestern North Dakota can’t pour concrete and pound nails fast enough to keep up with demand—a stark contrast with the slow pace of housing construction nationwide.

Rapid oil and natural gas development in the region has created thousands of jobs in oilfields and related industries such as construction and trucking. Those new workers, many of them migrants from elsewhere, need places to live—hence, the housing boom.

Since 2009, when a global drop in oil prices caused a marked slowdown in oil activity and housing starts, the number of permits issued for new housing has surged in the oil patch. In Williston, a bustling oilfield service center, city permits for new single-family homes and townhouses increased more than 10-fold between 2009 and 2011 (see chart). Through November of this year, more than 400 homes were permitted.

Oil patch housing -- NEW chart 1   2-6-12

Minot and Dickinson, communities on the fringes of the Bakken shale-oil formation that have become bases for oil exploration and engineering firms, have also seen marked increases in home construction since 2009. In Minot, the region’s largest city, new home approvals doubled from 2010 to 2011 as developers rushed to provide shelter for oil industry workers and replace about 3,000 homes destroyed or badly damaged in last summer’s flooding (see October 2011 fedgazette). In Dickinson, new home permits increased sharply from 2009 to 2010 before falling slightly this year.

Approvals for apartments—the most efficient way to build housing on quickly appreciating land—surged in the oil patch as well. Apartment units permitted in Williston tripled from 2010 through November of this year, to about 750. Dickinson approved only 14 multifamily units in 2009; since then, over 140 have been slated for construction.

In comparison with western North Dakota, the pace of home building in the eastern part of the state, while steady, has not increased over the past two years. In Grand Forks, for example, annual permits for new homes fell from 2009 to 2011.

This post, including the accompanying chart, was updated on Feb. 8, 2012.