IT and Innovation Driving Jobs and Economic Growth

Posted by Pamela Passman
Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

In a new report, a leading think tank singles out the IT industry as a major driver of U.S. job growth and suggests that the nation needs to do much more to promote continued IT innovation and job creation.

Robert Atkinson and Scott Andes of The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) discovered from analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics data that IT employment grew by more than 688,000 jobs between 1999 and 2008, an increase of 26 percent. IT jobs grew more than four times faster than employment as a whole.

This growth reflects the transformation of the United States into an innovation-based economy. And the pace of that transformation will pick up, according to Atkinson and Andes: “Fortunately, as we look to the future we can expect more – not less – potential for job growth in this sector. The U.S. economy continues to become more dependent on IT for producing innovation, higher productivity and improvements in quality of life.”

The ITIF forecast corroborates economic impact studies conducted by IDC in 2009 and commissioned by Microsoft. IDC concluded that by the end of 2013, more than 1 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. IT industry and more than 13,000 new IT businesses will be started. Microsoft will be a key contributor to the creation of those jobs: In 2009, Microsoft and our community of partners accounted for more than one-third of all IT employment in the country.

But ITIF’s Atkinson and Andes caution against complacency, urging action to sustain growth: “On the supply-side, policies to ensure that training and education programs effectively train Americans in IT skills and enable needed foreign IT talent to enter the United States are critical,” and “On the demand side, local, state and federal governments will need to continue and expand policies to spur digital transformation. The 2008 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s funds for health IT, broadband and smart grid were a move in the right direction.”

Working with elected leaders to maintain and accelerate that momentum is a priority for Microsoft and the IT industry, so that millions more Americans will benefit further from the opportunities spawned by information technology.

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