Growth in federal R&D investment from 1987-2008 was 0.3% per year, vs. 4.9% from 1953-1987, for a current annual shortfall of $60 billion.
Government funding for research played a key role in the technological breakthroughs that helped U.S. industry become global technology leaders World War II. Indeed, federal support of research grew 4.9% per year in inflation adjusted terms from 1953-1987. But with the decline of the Cold War and efforts at budget austerity, the federal government has abandoned its responsibilities to help fund research. Federal investments in research from 1987-2008 grew by only 0.3% per year, 15 times slower than in the prior era. If federal support had not lagged, current federal research funding would be $60 billion larger annually than it is today. Or another way to put this, we are short nearly nine National Science Foundations or twenty DARPAs. Other nations have done the opposite, ramping up their investments. From 1987 to 2008, R&D intensity increased substantially more in most other nations than the United States, including Japan (22 percent), Canada (31 percent), Sweden (34 percent), Ireland (75 percent), Korea (91 percent), Israel (110 percent), and China (110 percent). It's no wonder then, that the U.S. is falling behind in the race for global innovation advantage and losing the jobs related to that race.