Both Mashable and CNN posted articles today discussing a new study which showed that the internet accounted for $684 billion dollars, or 4.7% of the US economy in 2010. The researchers admitted that measuring the full economic impact of the internet is difficult, but ultimately their numbers came from tallying the totals of: e-commerce, cost consumers pay to access internet and money spent building building internet infrastructure. The study also predicted that internet spending will continue to grow by 10% every year until 2016.
$684 billion dollars is obviously a staggering number, however as the article notes the true number is probably even higher. The internet helps the economy in many ways which are not easily measurable. One obvious example of this is people who look online and then buy in person. Another example is how the internet enables people to learn new skills, which may help to advance or expand their careers and increase their disposable income. A final example, although I am sure there are many more, is how the internet has transformed the job search landscape, improving things for both employees and employers.
There is a lot more that can be said about this study, however I think the most clear takeaway is that the internet is AWESOME!