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Opinion: 
New report shows consumer tech industry supports jobs, economy in Missouri

  
Ed Mayuga.

A recent report indicates that jobs supported by the tech sector are increasing – and they aren’t just located in Silicon Valley, either. The study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and released by the Consumer Technology Association last month shows that the tech sector has seen an increase in jobs and economic growth and activity in the U.S.

Overall nationally, the report states that in 2017 the consumer tech sector directly and indirectly supported over 18 million American jobs, making up nearly 12% of the U.S. GDP. The sector also provided $1.3 trillion in wages annually, contributed $503 billion in government taxes, and added over $2.3 trillion to the U.S. economy.

What’s especially interesting though, is that while many jobs can be found in places like California and New York, the report also states that consumer tech industry supported at least 100,000 jobs in 34 states across the country. That includes Missouri, where the tech sector supports over 370,000 jobs across the state. The tech industry also provides over $17 million in wages and contributes over $30 million to the state’s economy. That’s a substantial increase from 2015, when the consumer tech industry supported around 260,000 jobs in the state.

So how has the tech sector grown to impact our state in such a significant way? One reason is the effect of the tech industry’s supply chain. The consumer tech sector includes manufacturing of consumer electronics, the supply of content and services for these products, and wholesale and retail distribution of consumer tech products and services – all of which impacts other industries.

According to the PWC report, for every job that was created in the U.S. consumer tech sector, that job supports nearly three non-tech industry jobs throughout the rest of the U.S. economy. By driving economic activity in other U.S. industries, the consumer tech sector is contributing indirect benefits to the economy, too.  For Missouri, this all amounts to the consumer tech sector contributing nearly 10% of the entire state GDP.

The report also breaks down the economic activity by congressional district. Missouri’s first congressional district, which includes St. Louis City and much of northern St. Louis County, leads with the most jobs supported by tech with an estimated 54,760 jobs. Missouri’s second district comes next, with over 50,000 jobs supported by tech, followed by the Kansas City metro area and Springfield.

The PwC report also estimated that in Missouri, household spending on consumer tech products in 2017 was $1,624, not far from the overall national average of $1,678.

The report comes at a time when the consumer tech industry is feeling the impact of the U.S. trade war with China, as China is one of the top export markets for U.S. tech. According to CTA and the Trade Partnership, the current Section 301 tariffs on imported products from China cost the tech industry an additional $1 billion per month. Some estimates show the trade war with China has cost the U.S. economy $7.8 billion in lost domestic gross product last year.