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Study credits 'app economy' with 500,000 U.S. jobs

Led by apps for mobile devices, the "app economy" is responsible for almost half a million jobs in the U.S., estimates a new study sponsored by CEO network TechNet. But the study also says figures may represent "jobs not lost."

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

The surge in mobile software and other apps has also led to a surge in jobs, almost half a million just in the U.S., estimates a study out today from CEO network TechNet.

Dubbed the "app economy," the million or so apps created just for iOS and Android devices represent jobs for programmers, designers, marketers, managers, support staff, and other professionals, according to TechNet's report "Where the Jobs Are: The App Economy."

But how just many jobs? Analysis conducted for TechNet by Michael Mandel, president of South Mountain Economics and former chief economist for BusinessWeek, found that the app economy has been responsible for adding an estimated 466,000 jobs in the U.S., up from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was first unveiled.

However, it's important to point out, as the study notes in its executive summary, that these are estimates and "may represent 'jobs not lost' rather than net jobs gained."

That total includes jobs at a business like Zynga, which creates Facebook apps, as well as app-related jobs at companies like Electronic Arts, Amazon, and AT&T. It also naturally covers jobs at top app players such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.

As detailed in the study, the core platforms in the "app economy" include Google's Android, Apple's iOS, RIM's BlackBerry, Microsoft's Windows Phone, and Facebook's own apps.

The top metro spot for app economy jobs proved to be New York City and its surrounding counties, according to Mandel's research. But San Francisco and San Jose combined exceeded the jobs created in and around NYC. California got the nod as the highest state for app economy jobs. But the rest of the country is also benefiting, with almost two-thirds of the jobs counted outside California and New York.

Mandel compiled his data through a variety of methods, such as searching help wanted ads by certain keywords, comparing the number of ads with the number of jobs, and looking at third-party app developers.

The full report describes in much greater detail exactly how he conducted his research.

Still in its early years, the app economy is growing rapidly, noted the report, and is likely to shift even further over the coming years.

"It must be noted, of course, that the App Economy is only four years old and extremely fluid," Mandel said in the report. "Both the location and number of app-related jobs are likely to shift greatly. It should also be noted that the figures presented in this paper are estimates, based on innovative techniques developed for this project. Finally, these may represent 'jobs not lost' rather than net jobs gained. Yet the basic principle holds. Innovation creates jobs, and in this case, lots of them."