The True Size Of The Online Labor Force

by: Christopher Hooton

Internet Association released a groundbreaking analysis that finds the online labor market is comprised of 23.9 million income positions – a number that far exceeds those of the professional services and healthcare industries in the U.S. Using exclusive company data, the study reflects a more accurate benchmark to measure the breadth of the online labor force and the driving factors behind its growth at both the national and state levels.

“The internet provides people the freedom and power to generate their own income and fuel economic growth in ways previously unimaginable,” said Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman. “Understanding the magnitude of the online labor market throughout the U.S. and the role internet companies play in allowing individuals and microbusinesses to use their passions and skills to generate extra income will help guide and inform important policy decisions.”

Entitled “America’s online ‘jobs’: conceptualizations, measurements, and influencing factors,” the report takes a comprehensive look at the number of online income positions at the national and state levels, providing a guidepost for future measurement of this segment of the internet economy and what’s driving growth. Key findings include:

  • There are approximately 23.9 million online income positions in the United States. That estimate is far larger than any previous calculation, suggesting the online labor force is more prevalent than previously measured. For comparison, there were 15.7 million healthcare jobs and 12.4 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. as of June 2017.
  • These income opportunities are in addition to the 3 million traditional jobs supported by the internet sector in 2014.
  • All 50 states feature at least 20,000 online income positions, demonstrating the geographically diverse appeal of the on-demand economy. The growth of the online economy has contributed to economic activity and jobs in every state across the U.S. California has the largest online labor market with 5.8 million online income positions.
  • The number of online income positions in each state is driven by relative income levels rather than unemployment. Cost of living, poverty, and GDP per capita were found to impact the rate of online income positions in each state, but there was no evidence of unemployment rates impacting results. This suggests that people use online jobs as income supplements, rather than job replacements.

“For the first time we can see what many have suspected. The internet powers tens of millions of positions in the United States,” said Internet Association Chief Economist Dr. Christopher Hooton. “Being able to aggregate exclusive Internet Association member company data allows us to accurately measure the impact and growth of this market, and it’s truly unparalleled.”

To view the 2-pager, click here.
To view the full report, click here.

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