At a time when jobs are top of mind in the national consciousness, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released a study showing that the ad-supported Internet is responsible for 5.1 million jobs in the U.S. and contributed $530 billion to the economy in 2011.
The report was funded by the IAB, along with members Google, 24/7 Media Inc. and ValueClick, and headed up by researchers at the Harvard University Business School. The research followed the same methodology as a study conducted in 2007 that found the ad-supported internet directly employing 1.015 million people. The 5.1 million jobs in 2011 included both direct jobs in the ad-supported internet (2 million), as well as the additional jobs that support those direct employees (3.1 million).
This year’s study showed the internet advertising sector represented nearly double the contribution to the U.S. economy in 2011, as compared to 2007. It accounted for 3.7 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), up from 2.1 percent four years ago.
Interestingly, most of the job growth came in the infrastructure part of the industry, which swelled 300% as compared to 2007. Next fastest-growing was consumer support services, which increased 229%. Consumer services — which represents directly consumer-facing companies like content sites, ecommerce and social networks — still employs the largest number of people (885,000).
The ad-supported internet created jobs all across the U.S. in every state, in every Congressional district. Though the usual suspects — New York and California — were homes to the majority of ad-supported internet jobs, states like Washington, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Colorado also had their economies impacted significantly by the ad-supported internet.
The fact that the internet enables small businesses and sole proprietors to work from practically anywhere was certainly a factor in the widespread distribution of jobs. Additionally, the support to small businesses provided by companies like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Square, Craigslist, YouTube and Kickstarter was also a contributor. Very small businesses and sole proprietorships made up 375,000 full-time equivalent jobs.