Data Centers: Jobs and Opportunities in Communities Nationwide

20 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2017 Last revised: 2 Apr 2019

See all articles by Nam Pham

Nam Pham

George Washington University

Date Written: May 1, 2017


Data centers will continue their fast-paced growth to support the digital economy’s increased demand for massive data storage in a secured environment. There are more than 3 million large and small data centers in the United States. Large data centers occupy several hundred thousand square feet and contain tens of thousands of servers with power backup and temperature control systems.

This study focuses on the development of large data centers that have significant economic and social impacts on the communities where they locate. Our data sample consists of 244 large data centers owned by large enterprises and data center service providers, covering over 40 million net rentable square feet in 16 states across the country. We use financial information of the most recent data center development projects and annual income statements of data center service providers and enterprises to characterize a typical large data center in the United States. We then use official regional economic multipliers (RIMS II) constructed and published by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis to estimate direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of a typical data center on local communities. We analyze the economic and social contributions of data centers to discuss the long-term impacts beyond the economic multipliers.

In addition to immediate economic impacts, data centers create other long-lasting economic and social benefits for communities.

Recognizing the economic and social benefits that a data center brings to communities, many local governments are competing to create business-friendly policies, such as tax incentives, to attract data centers. The economic and social benefits that data centers bring to communities are far reaching.

Keywords: economic impact, data centers, digital economy

Suggested Citation

Pham, Nam, Data Centers: Jobs and Opportunities in Communities Nationwide (May 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Nam Pham (Contact Author)

George Washington University ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-450-1368 (Phone)

Do you want regular updates from SSRN on Twitter?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics