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U.S. App Economy Jobs Update, 2019

By / 9.2.2019

In this note we update our previous estimates of U.S. App Economy jobs. Our latest research estimates that the U.S. has 2.246 million App Economy jobs as of April 2019.  That’s up 30% from 1.729 million that we estimated for December 2016 in our previous report (released May 2017).

That figure translates into a 12% annualized growth rate for App Economy jobs, compared to a 6.7% annual growth rate for computer and mathematical jobs over the past 3 years, and a 1.8% annual growth rate for all nonfarm private sector jobs.

Since fall 2011, we have done a total of six App Economy job estimates for the United States. The chart below lays out our published U.S. App Economy job estimates, starting with the first one in fall  2011 (released February 2012). These numbers include a conservative estimate of indirect and spillover jobs.

We also estimate U.S. App Economy jobs by mobile operating system. As of April 2019, there were 1.853 million jobs in the iOS ecosystem and 1.736 million jobs in the Android ecosystem. (The iOS and Android numbers add up to more than the total, because many App Economy jobs belong to both ecosystems).

U.S. App Economy Jobs by Operating System, April 2019
millions of App Economy jobs
All App Economy Jobs 2.246
iOS ecosystem 1.853
Android ecosystem 1.736
Data: PPI, Indeed.com

Summary Methodology

The methodology for generating these estimates is described in the appendix to the May 2017 US App Economy report. Since then, we’ve made some small technical adjustments to make the U.S. methodology consistent with our global methodology.

For this research, a worker is in the App Economy if he or she works in:

  • An information and communications technology (ICT) related job that uses App Economy skills— the ability to develop, maintain, or support mobile applications. We will call this a “core” App Economy job. Core App Economy jobs include app developers; software engineers whose work requires knowledge of mobile applications; security engineers who help keep mobile apps safe from being hacked; and help desk workers who support use of mobile apps.
  • A non-ICT job (such as human resources, marketing, or sales) that supports core App Economy jobs in the same enterprise. We will call this an “indirect” App Economy job.
  • A job in the local economy that is supported by the income flowing to core and indirect App Economy workers. These “spillover” jobs include local retail and restaurant jobs, construction jobs, and all the other necessary services.

To estimate the number of core App Economy jobs, we use a multi-step procedure based on data from the universe of online job postings, and described in detail in the methodology appendix of the May 2017 report. The source of the data is Indeed.com, which calls itself “the #1 job site in the world.”  Indeed’s API allows us to use Boolean search to identify App economy-related job postings.

Job postings are a powerful source of information about the skills being required by employers. For example, if a job posting requires that the job candidate have experience developing apps for iOS—the iPhone/iPad operating system—then we can reasonably conclude that the posting refers to a core App Economy job.

However, the number of job postings does not immediately translate into employment levels. The process for estimating the relationship between jobs postings and employment was initially described in a series of papers starting in 2012, when we produced the first-ever estimate of the U.S. App Economy. [i] We use an improved version of that methodology here, including a conservative set of multipliers relating indirect and spillover jobs to core App Economy jobs.[ii]

Future blog items will discuss App Economy jobs by state and by city.


[i] Michael Mandel. 2012. “Where the Jobs Are: The App Economy,” South Mountain Economics/Technet.

Michael Mandel and Judith Scherer. 2012. “The Geography of the App Economy,” South Mountain Economics/CTIA.

Michael Mandel and Judith Scherer. 2015. “A Low-Cost and Flexible Approach for Tracking Jobs and Economic Activity Related to Innovative Technologies,“ South Mountain Economics/Nesta.

[ii]  We assume that companies have one indirect job for every core app economy job. We then assume there are 0.5 spillover jobs for every core or indirect job.  This low number is consistent with the latest research on local job multipliers. See, for example. Timothy J. Bartik and Nathan Sotherland. 2019. “Realistic Local Job Multipliers.” Policy Brief, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/pb2019-8.