Considering recent cabinet appointments
Some information about President-elect Trump’s future science policy can be gleaned from his cabinet picks. His appointment of successful businesspeople to some cabinet positions brings hope for policies that will stimulate the economy, stimulate industrial growth, and increase the need for employees. His cabinet appointments suggest a favorable posture for all energy sources, especially oil and gas, which would benefit downstream products and chemicals, increasing employment in the chemical sector.
Our recent President’s Task Force on Employment in the Chemical Sciences (2015–17) compared the number of chemists seeking jobs with the disproportionately smaller number of jobs available. Members of the task force discussed ways to strike a balance, such as reducing the number of chemists by either dissuading students from seeking degrees in chemistry or reducing the number of foreign scientists coming to the U.S. to obtain degrees or pursue jobs in chemistry. Both of these solutions are problematic.
Chemists have long assumed that growing the chemical sciences industries enough to significantly increase the number of available jobs is unattainable. We have not considered this a viable solution because, for many years, we viewed the jobs situation through a stagnant economy. But if the economy is stimulated, perhaps there will be sufficient growth in the chemical industry economy to enable this more desirable solution.I think the words "if" and "perhaps" are doing a lot of work in that last sentence.
(It seems to me that "dissuading students from seeking degrees in chemistry" is one extreme of a broad spectrum of potentially useful actions. For example, I have consistently advocated for better, faster information. Better understanding and dissemination of data about the salary/unemployment levels and career paths of age cohorts and subfields would be sufficiently informative about the state of the market to allow students to make appropriate judgments.)
UPDATE: Clarified language in last paragraph.