Study says expanded broadband could add jobs in Vermont

first_imgExpanding broadband Internet coverage in Vermont could lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs, according to a new report from the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) industries. The STUDY, ‘Economic Benefits of Broadband Expansion in Northern New England,’ measures three economic impacts ‘ share of GDP, share of employment, and compensation per worker.  The study’s authors note that an increase in broadband access of just 7 percent would stimulate nearly $275 million in economic growth and create or save more than 5,200 jobs in Vermont. ‘Broadband access is such a major part of our lives and is vital to businesses operating successfully in the 21st century,’ said Economist Scott Moody, a co-author of the report. ‘The facts are clear, increased broadband access means more jobs for Vermonters.’  The study’s results show that Vermont is squarely in the middle of its Northern New England counterparts in broadband accessibility. This study shows that the broadband industry is strong and healthy in Northern New England. However, there are sharp disparities among the 3 states that warrant attention.  As measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and average compensation, Vermont’s strength in the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) industries is middling, while New Hampshire has the strongest ICT industry and Maine the weakest. The study indicates that Vermont’s broadband problem stems from not just a lack of coverage but a lack of high-speed coverage. Vermont’s overall broadband base has a subscriber rate of 69 percent, only 5 percent better than the national average of 64 percent.  A 10 percent increase in subscribers would put Vermont on par with New Hampshire, at 79 percent.‘For Vermont to be economically competitive and a place where businesses can flourish and hire new workers, quality, high-speed residential-business broadband must be available to everyone,’ Moody said. Recent studies cited in the white paper regarding the economic benefits of improved broadband access show one consistent finding’increased broadband infrastructure will add a significant number of jobs to the economy. The Crandall, Jackson and Singer study found that a rapid adoption of residential broadband would ultimately add more than 1.2 million jobs to the American economy. Vermont Governor Shumlin and his predecessor, Governor Jim Douglas, have emphasized the need to expand broadband coverage to enhance economic development. They have pointed to the difficulty of bringing broadband Internet access to the state’s hinterland. According to the US Census Bureau (2000, the most recent data available), Vermont is the most rural state in the nation (61.8 percent) and Maine is second (59.8 percent). New Hampshire is 11th at 40.7 percent and the US average is 21 percent.The study was undertaken by the Internet Innovation Alliance, whose MEMBERS include the American Conservative Union, AT&T, the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership and the United States Cattlemen’s Association, among many others.Lead author Moody is a tax policy economist and in January 2011 was appointed a member of Maine’s Consensus Economic Forecasting Committee. He has been a senior economist at The Tax Foundation and a Senior Economist at The Heritage Foundation. ALSO: is external) is external)last_img

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