Americans love their mobile devices. So much so that last year, for the first time ever, smartphones, such as Apple Inc.'s popular iPhone, outsold personal computers. Helping to drive demand are "apps," inexpensive programs that are essentially mini computer applications.
Apps are a boon for users who want to quickly search for specific information or products, and their introduction has generated a boom industry for software engineers, product designers, marketers and support staff, creating nearly half a million jobs during the past five years, a new study shows.
About 466,000 people are employed in the so-called "app economy" in the U.S., up from nil in 2007, according to data compiled by TechNet, a technology-research organization.
The main beneficiaries of such job creation have been big cities including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Dallas. Nearly 10 percent of jobs related to the app economy are situated in the New York metropolitan area, according to the study.
California is by far the biggest beneficiary among states, hosting nearly a quarter of all the nation's app-economy jobs. New York and Washington are a distant second and third, with 6.9 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, of app jobs.
Creating nearly half a million jobs from scratch in just five years shows that cutting-edge innovation can quickly translate into economic benefits, says TechNet CEO Rey Ramsey, in a statement accompanying the findings.
"The App Economy, along with the broad communications sector, has been a leading source of hiring strength in an otherwise sluggish labor market, says the report's author, Michael Mandel, former chief economist at BusinessWeek magazine.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation's chief compiler of employment data, hasn't yet begun to track app jobs, due to the newness of the field, TechNet notes.
The total number of jobs created includes those at so-called "pure" app companies, such as Zynga Inc. -- maker of the popular FarmVille app on Facebook -- as well as larger, more diverse companies, such as Electronic Arts Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and AT&T.
As InformationWeek notes, TechNet's data suggests the app economy is still growing. The research firm expects the number of app-related jobs to continue to climb in the coming years, and that's good news for America's job-starved economy.
Video Extra: Watch pop-culture video blogger Shira Lazar discuss the popular social networking game, FarmVille, with developer Mark Skaggs of Zynga Inc., maker of the game.
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