America's Online 'Jobs': Conceptualizations, Measurements, and Influencing Factors

Business Economics, Forthcoming, DOI: 10.1057/s11369-017-0053-1

Posted: 27 Oct 2017 Last revised: 22 Aug 2018

See all articles by Christopher Hooton

Christopher Hooton

George Washington University Institute of Public Policy; Facebook; Meta Platforms Inc

Date Written: October 1, 2017


The paper examines the size and distribution of online income positions (OIPs) from internet platforms in the United States. While researchers have developed traditional internet sector employment estimates (e.g. engineers), this secondary OIP market remains largely unmeasured due to shortcomings in industrial codes, conceptualizations, and methods. The estimates that do exist vary greatly. The paper addresses these shortcomings through original survey data collected directly from internet sector companies, allowing it to develop the first comprehensive look at the market for online income opportunities. The paper provides national and state-level estimates, finding approximately 23.9 million OIPs exist currently in 2017. The paper finds that these OIPs are present across all 50 states and the District of Columbia and that their distribution is less tied to population levels than traditional employment. The paper also develops a model for OIP levels with a surprisingly strong fit, which demonstrates that OIPs are driven by relative cost to income factors, exposure to the ‘tech’ sector, and internet access, but not by unemployment. To the extent of the paper’s knowledge, this is the only research that has drawn on actual internet firm data to estimate the size of the OIP market.

Keywords: Internet, Internet Sector, Sharing Economy, Digital Economy, Labor Markets

JEL Classification: J01, J4, O1, O3

Suggested Citation

Hooton, Christopher, America's Online 'Jobs': Conceptualizations, Measurements, and Influencing Factors (October 1, 2017). Business Economics, Forthcoming, DOI: 10.1057/s11369-017-0053-1, Available at SSRN:

Christopher Hooton (Contact Author)

George Washington University Institute of Public Policy ( email )

Institute of Public Policy
2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC DC 20052
United States

HOME PAGE: http://


United Kingdom

Meta Platforms Inc ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics