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Policy

Knowledge-Intensive Sector Performs Well

by Andrea Widener
October 20, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 42

Knowledge-intensive industries in the U.S. employ just 18 million people but were responsible for almost 22% of gross domestic product in 2012, an NSF report says. Those industries include business and finance companies, as well as high-tech manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and semiconductor manufacturing industries. In addition, they have greater concentrations of science and engineering workers than other sectors and tend to pay more than others in the private sector, according to the report from the agency’s National Center for Science & Engineering Statistics. Knowledge-intensive industries lead U.S. exports, accounting for almost half of the $587 billion in cross-border exports in 2012. These industries also add significant value to the products they make, around $3.8 trillion in 2012 for the whole sector. In individual sectors, pharmaceutical manufacturing added $47 billion in value to its products, while semiconductors added $53 billion and testing, measuring, and control instruments added $123 billion, the report shows. Inside the industry, firms specializing in business tend to hire far more workers than high-tech manufacturing, the report says.

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