From the Sept. 23 news release from the National Academies of Sciences announcing the new “Gathering Storm, Revisited” report, “U.S. Competitive Position Has Futher Declined in Past Five Yeras, Report Says; Nation Needs Sustained Commitment to Investment in Innovation.”
The report notes many indications that the United States’ competitive capacity is slipping, including the following:
- In 2009, 51 percent of U.S. patents were awarded to non-U.S. companies.
- China has replaced the U.S. as the world’s number one high-technology exporter and is now second in the world in publication of biomedical research articles.
- Between 1996 and 1999, 157 new drugs were approved in the United States. In a corresponding period 10 years later, the number dropped to 74.
- Almost one-third of U.S. manufacturing companies responding to a recent survey say they are suffering from some level of skills shortage.
In addition, in spite of occasional bright spots, the nation’s education system has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in math and science, the report says. According to the ACT College Readiness Report, 78 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2008 did not meet readiness benchmark levels for one or more entry-level college courses in mathematics, science, reading, and English, the report notes. And the World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 48th in the quality of its math and science education.