Facebook is hoping to gain favor in Washington by highlighting it generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and feeds billions of dollars into the country’s economic engine.
According to research from the University of Maryland, the “Facebook app economy” added between 182,000 and 235,000 jobs and contributed between $12.1 and $15.7 billion in wages and benefits to the U.S. economy in 2011. The report, which examined Facebook’s importance in fueling the lagging economic engine, dovetails with the social network’s beefed up spending in Washington — up to $230,000 this past quarter, a five-fold increase from the same period last year.
The increase in lobbying, according to Facebook, ensures a “continuation of our efforts to explain how our service works as well as the important actions we take to protect people who use our service and promote the value of innovation to our economy.”
The Maryland study puts specific numbers on the value of that innovation, and that sizable economic boost may bolster Facebook’s presence in D.C. as it lobbies members of Congress in areas of business and policy relevant to its interests.
Facebook’s effect on the economy derives from its broad reach and integration with millions of sites and apps. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook, the social network’s users install 20 million apps every day, and its social gaming apps are wildly popular with its estimated 750 million users.
More than 53,000 new jobs have been created through software companies that make applications for the Facebook platform, according to Maryland’s research.
“The jobs created in the app economy stimulate the creation of additional jobs in other sectors of the US economy,” the study said. “First, jobs are created at businesses that supply app developers. Second, jobs are created as a result of household spending based on the income earned by employees at both app developers and businesses supplying app developers.”
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking giant’s new mobile platform, Project Spartan, is part of the company’s big mobile push and aims to build on those figures, fueling more innovation, corresponding jobs and economic revenue.
For Project Spartan, Facebook will create a web-based, HTML5 standard platform that will allow the broad audience of iOS device users to access the network’s full range of services without downloading a standalone app, effectively bypassing the stringent policies of Apple’s App Store.
In addition, Facebook itself, like its social media counterparts Google+ and Twitter, is known for being a job engine, employing a staff of over 2,000 and growing.
The study evaluated both jobs created in the app industry and those created in other sectors of the economy from Facebook’s ecosystem. The economic value of those jobs included salary and benefits.