A gathering of economists from Georgetown and Columbia Universities discussed the employment repercussions of the proposed expansion of rural broadband access, and turns out many think increased broadband access will actually reduce employment. What?
As we've all discovered, economists can't predict the effect of stimulus any better than you or I or a damn monkey, so no conclusions were reached. But aside from the roughly 128,000 temporary jobs that would be created for pure construction of rural broadband, the effects of such expansion are pretty much a mystery. One group of economists believes that the increased connectivity will result in more jobs in e-commerce and telecommuting, but another thinks it'll just make it that much easier to outsource to cheaper options in China and India.
Estimates on job creation range from 378,000 jobs gained to 110,000 jobs lost, with everything in between.
We promote broadband expansion on principle, that more connectivity will enhance education and quality of life and all that, but in terms of specific job creation, nobody really knows anything. That's kind of catchy, eh? It's like the mantra of the last six months: "nobody really knows anything." [NYTimes]