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Study: broadband boosts jobs, but not salaries

Broadband Internet access creates jobs within local economies, but the effect on individual users is less clear, according to a report by Public Policy Institute of California, a think tank

In a report released Tuesday called "Does Broadband Boost Local Economic Developement?" researcher Jed Kolko found that there is a "strong relationship" between employment growth -- the actual number of jobs -- and increased broadband availability, particularly in sparsely populated areas or within industries that rely more on information technology.

But the expansion of high-speed Internet doesn't impact the rate of employment -- the percentage of people employed -- nor average pay of local residents.

"A possible explanation: As broadband expands job opportunities in a region, workers follow by moving in from elsewhere or commuting to fill the jobs," PPIC said.

The think tank researched the report to help determine how public investment in broadband -- through $7.2 billion in federal stimulus dollars -- affects the economy and households.

Kolko also found that expanded broadband availability has not increased the likelihood that workers telecommute, bring work home or have home-based businesses.

"This may be because communication with workers by video involves expensive hardware and much faster connections than the minimum speeds that qualify as 'broadband' or because corporate cultures discourage telecommuting," the report says.

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 12, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband  
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