A new report from D.C.-based Software.org: the BSA Foundation shows that software’s economic impact is as strong as ever.
The report, Software: Supporting US through COVID, found that the number of jobs supported by software is on the up and up across the board. In D.C., software roles make up 31,063 jobs, but the industry-wide count expands to as much as 70,500 jobs when you include indirect and induced impacts, which is the overall economic activity that results from these roles. When it comes to the total number of jobs supported by the software industry, the District has posted a 19.2% increase in jobs since 2018.
Financially, software has a $7.8 billion GDP in D.C., the report states, and the $159 million R&D investment by software companies makes up 57% of all domestic business R&D in D.C.
Nationally, software supports 15.8 million jobs, which Software.org Executive Director Chris Hopfensperger said is a 5.9% jump since 2018.
“Something we’re always encouraged by is how quickly software jobs are growing outside of California and traditional tech hubs,” Hopfensperger said.
Although the overall growth is not quite as strong as BSA saw in its last report, the DMV area’s ability to continue at a steady increase in the face of the pandemic is a good sign. Hopfensperger said one of the reasons for the growth is the new appreciation for remote work. Not only can software jobs be remote, but software has been key over the last year in helping other sectors and businesses go virtual.
“In a world where we more fully appreciate and understand the facility of remote work and the ability to do a lot of jobs from a lot of different places, software jobs really are imminently remote-able,” Hopfensperger told Technical.ly. “I think what we expect to see and are hearing from more of the companies is them allowing more remote work and encouraging more remote work, and that people will be doing more software in more places.”
Looking ahead, Hopfensperger expects to see a huge drive in software jobs in the DMV from Amazon HQ2, but said there’s more to look at than big tech growth in the area. He said that as more and more corporate offices open in D.C., people can expect more software jobs to grow, given the versatility of the industry.
“We talk a lot about how every sector these days really is a software sector, that more people are using software in agriculture and energy and infrastructure and manufacturing. People need those jobs across all these skills,” Hopfensperger said. “So above and beyond even a big tech company relocating here, we are going to see the continued growth of software jobs in this area because we’re going to see the continued growth of industry in this area.”
In order to meet this growth, Hopfensperger said that across the board, the country needs better broadband access so people can fill upcoming jobs from wherever they are. That should also come with more investment in STEM skills and education, which could mean more of an emphasis in local schools, or retraining for current professionals in the software field.
The new uses for software that have come to light since March of last year only further show how expansive the industry can be and the potential for job growth going forward, Hopfensperger said.
“The software industry has been very lucky over the last couple of years. I say this not just because I work in the software industry, but we’ve all been very lucky that software has enabled so much of the economy to continue moving and continue growing in the face of challenges of COVID.” Hopfensperger said. “As the broader economy comes back, it will mean more and more turning to software skills because of the opportunities that people realized in the last year plus.”-30-