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IT – What Does It Do For Our Economy?

It is so interesting to read the news these days.  IT is literally mentioned everywhere — in healthcare, in utilities, in manufacturing,  in education. You name it — IT is impacting every sector.  Under the WIIFM principle (What’s In It For Me), the good news is  . . . drumroll please . . .  IT is also extemely impactful in a positive way on our nation’s economic recovery.

As I was browsing the news today, I came across a story on how the City of Seattle and many dignitaries (including Bill Gates) from the University of Washington (UW) are rolling out the red carpets for Facebook. The buzz is all about how Facebook is opening their first satellite office there.  They are initially planning to offer 30 new jobs in the city — which caused many to ask “why all the hub-bub over 30 jobs?”

And I love the answer that Ed Lazowska (Chair of the Computer Science Department at UW) gives in answer of this question.  Here’s what Ed said:

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help welcome Facebook to Seattle.  The University of Washington has one of the nation’s top Computer Science programs, and is a top-five supplier of new college graduates to Microsoft, to Amazon.com, and to Google.

We look forward to becoming a top-five supplier to Facebook, too, now that they have a presence in the Puget Sound region, where most of our students come from, and where most of them want to remain.  I want to thank Mayor Mike McGinn for rolling out the red carpet for Facebook, and I want to spend a minute telling you why it’s important.  Information technology drives the economy of our city, our county, our state, and our nation.

Nationwide, between 1999 and 2008, overall job growth was 6%, while Information Technology job growth was 26% – more than four times as great. (Remember that this period included the “tech crash” of 2002!).  Looking to the future, between 2008 and 2018, Information Technology jobs are projected to grow by 22%, the fastest of all professional occupations.

In fact, among all science and engineering occupations – the physical sciences, the life sciences, the social sciences, and engineering – Information Technology is projected to account for 60% of the job growth between 2008 and 2018.

Technology jobs create other jobs: In King County, there are 233,000 tech jobs. On average, each tech job supports 3 jobs in other sectors of the economy. The multiplier for Information Technology jobs is even higher – nearly 5:1.  Part of the reason for tech’s high multiplier effect is that jobs in the tech industry pay, on average, nearly double the state average in wages and benefits.  Our role at the University of Washington is to help create these jobs, and to help ensure that Washington’s young people are the ones who fill them.”

As you can imagine, at CONEXiS, this is music to our ears!  These are some great statistics, and some for all of us involved in IT to keep in mind. And, as the economy continues its recovery, those companies who are building themselves up, doing the blocking and tackling to set up their businesses and create compelling products and services to provide to their customers — they will be involved in that upward trajectory. 

Let's face it, when IT is in the news across industries — and the news speaks to the positive effect of IT on those industries — it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let's keep it going!

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