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The Facebook effect hits the job market

jobsA new study from the University of Maryland says that Facebook’s “app economy” is responsible for some 182,000 US jobs and has put somewhere between $12.19 billion and $15.71 billion in wages and benefits into our economy this past year.

“Our findings confirm that social media platforms have created a thriving new industry. As Facebook and other platforms grow, we will continue to see job growth and the ripple effects of these advances in the US economy,” Il-Horn Hann, co-director of the university’s Smith’s Center for Digital Innovation.

And it’s a cyclical process, one that will spur further jobs creation across various markets. “The jobs created in the app economy stimulate the creation of additional jobs in other sectors of the US economy,” Hann says. “First jobs are created at businesses that supply app developers. Second jobs are created as a result of household spending based on the income earned by employees at both app developer and businesses supplying app developers.”

The news comes just as Facebook is set to begin its annual f8 developers conference, which is turning out to sound like it will reveal quite a few new additions to the site–and give developers even more opportunity. But before you drop that business major or quit your 9-5 job, the numbers deserve a second look. Conclusions were found by assessing how many app development companies there are as well as the average number of users who access these Facebook apps daily. This, the report claims, is enough to approximate how many people are working for third-party developers.

If that sounds iffy enough to you, then you probably won’t get on board with researchers’ other estimations, including the “multiplier effect.” This is the method used to determine that ripple effect the app economy has had. Employing a bit of skepticism over the report’s numbers and accounting methods is wise to say that least. Companies definitely have something to gain by promoting their platforms, making them more attractive to potential talent. Facebook and many of its competitors–namely, Google–have spent some serious cash lobbying the US government. Being a contributor to the struggling jobs market no doubt helps them in this department.

At the same time, no one can question the changing state of our jobs economy and the impact Internet companies–Facebook included–is having on that. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this summer that Facebook feels like it’s hit its stride connecting people via its network, and now it wants to build and integrate applications on top of that to enhance it, which is where developers step in.

And when you talk about job creation, you should think about elimination as well. There are a number of college majors and employment positions that have become obsolete since Facebook launched in 2004. While we can’t say for certain these are tied to Facebook’s debut, the site has had a huge effect on our socio–and some would argue economic culture. And no, we can’t begin to say we can find how many positions have been lost–and that’s why we’re a little cynical when someone says they can determine how many have been found.

There’s a new job sector that didn’t exist before Facebook’s arrival, and for that our economy can be thankful. Whether it can be 182,000 jobs thankful, however, we’re not so sure. 

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