In a time of economic uncertainty and inflation, the STEM job market remains resilient. Despite the wave of layoffs in the tech sector in 2023 and 2024, the demand for STEM and R&D talent in the U.S. remains strong overall. A recent analysis of over 5,000 job openings by R&D World reveals where these in-demand roles are clustered, which skills are most sought-after, and what kind of salaries top candidates can command.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects continued growth, with STEM jobs expected to increase by nearly 11% by 2032. While the tech sector has embraced remote work more than many others, the STEM workforce is not dominated by digital nomads. The analysis reveals a stubborn geographic reality: opportunities cluster around major research hubs. Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, and Chicago still reign supreme, thanks to their potent mix of top universities (think MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Georgia Tech, Princeton, and so on) and industry giants (think Google, Amazon, Takeda, AbbVie).

Greater Chicago, in particular, stands out as a top location for STEM talent. While known for its diverse economy, this region’s strength in scientific research is evident in the data. The University of Chicago emerges as a dominant hiring force, along with academic and research-oriented organizations.

The growth of lab space in the Greater Chicago area has been a significant factor in fostering a thriving startup ecosystem. As more wet lab and research facilities become available, entrepreneurs and innovators have access to the resources they need to turn their ideas into reality. This infrastructure, combined with the region’s deep pool of STEM talent, has created an environment conducive to the formation and growth of new ventures. Startups in fields such as biotechnology, medical devices, and advanced materials have found a supportive home in Chicago, benefiting from the proximity to leading research institutions and the ability to collaborate with industry partners. The expansion of lab space has also attracted investment from venture capital firms and angel investors, further fueling the startup ecosystem’s growth. As this trend continues, expect to see more groundbreaking innovations and successful startups emerging from Chicago’s burgeoning STEM scene.

As the demand for STEM and R&D talent continues to grow, it’s clear that major research hubs like Chicago will remain at the forefront of innovation and scientific advancement. With its world-class universities and thriving industry, the Windy City is well-positioned to attract and retain the best and brightest minds in STEM.

This article was originally published on iBIO NewsBrief. Gain a head start on your day with iBIO NewsBrief. Subscribe to receive top industry headlines delivered straight to your inbox.