The National Science Foundation's biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report shows that US research is in a better place than was expected, says ScienceInsider's Jeffrey Mervis. The report says that the country's investment in research as a share of GDP reached a record high of 2.9 percent in 2009, showing a commitment to investing in science, Mervis says. "The 2009 number is tantalizingly close to the goal of 3.0 percent that President Barack Obama enunciated in 2009 at the US National Academy of Sciences in a speech also known for his pledge that 'restoring science to its rightful place' would be a priority for his administration," he adds. "It also means that the US investment percentage has now topped the halcyon days of the Apollo program, when the race to the moon produced a spike in both public and private spending."
Two other bits of good news in the report are that R&D expenditures have risen 167 percent since 1990 and that the scientific and engineering workforce has grown an average of 1.4 percent each year during the last 10 years. "To be sure, the 2008 global recession did have a chilling effect on US research activity," Mervis says. "At the same time, the report notes, the massive 2-year federal stimulus package 'temporarily' made up the difference by providing billions more in research dollars."