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Census Report Shows IT Boom

A new Census Bureau report shows a boom in the IT industry in recent years, citing big gains in everything from employment numbers to online spending.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2000 was released last week by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau and is compiled from numerous sources of data, not including the 2000 Census. "We talked to about 300 different federal, private and international organizations to come up with this portrait of America," says Glenn King, chief of the Census Bureau's office of Statistical Compendia and coordinator of the report.

The 1,012-page abstract covers a range of topics, from prescription drug sales to prison operating expenditures. It has been published every year since 1878, and is being expanded to include analysis of new technologies and businesses. King says the bureau has just begun to examine many aspects of IT growth but will be looking more deeply into it in coming years.

According to the report, information technology (defined as hardware, software, and services for computers and communications) grew from a $371 billion industry in 1992, accounting for 5.9% of the U.S. economy's gross domestic income, to an estimated $815 billion or 8.3% of the economy in 2000. The software and services segment, which covers an area ranging from the sale of prepackaged software to systems design, was the fastest-growing category, more than tripling from a $75 billion industry in 1992 to one with an estimated income of $246 billion in 2000.

An estimated 5.2 million people were employed in IT in 1998, up 33% from 3.9 million in 1992. That rate far outpaces the total private industry job growth of about 18% over that period. Again, software and services were the fastest-growing segment of the industry, up 90% to 1.6 million jobs in 1998 from 854,000 in 1992. Private-industry IT wages increased nearly 20% from an average of $25,400 annually in 1992 to $31,400 in 1998.

The total number of telecommunications carriers (including local service, wireless, and toll-service providers) increased 46% from 2,847 in 1994 to 4,144 in 1998. Telecommunications revenues saw a similar surge, jumping 41% from $175 billion in 1994 to $246 billion in 1998.

The report also examines recent booms in E-business. Online consumer spending surged 124% from 1998 to 1999, increasing from $7.7 billion to $17.3 billion. That number is expected to increase to $28 billion for 2000. "It's a huge jump," says King. "No other segment of the economy grew at that rate." The biggest areas for online spending were air travel, personal computers, and books.

Other statistical highlights:

- The number of public schools with Internet access increased to 95% in 1999, up 45% from 1995.

- Two-thirds of all public school teachers used the Internet or computers for classroom instruction in 1999.

- On average, 45.4% of all adults and 76.5% of all college graduates in the United States have accessed the Internet in the past 30 days.

For more information on the Statistical Abstract, visit the Department of the Census at http://www.census.gov/statab/www/.

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