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How broadband access positively impacts the growing American workforce

Nashville, Tenn. (June 5, 2024) - Imagine this: You are about to start your workday, but the internet is out. For most people, an outage like this would prevent them from getting the majority of their work done. But why is that? It’s because today’s U.S. workforce is heavily reliant on broadband (high-speed internet) access.

You might think, “There are many things you can do at your job without internet,” but that is not necessarily true. Employees and employers need the internet to communicate with their co-workers/clients, run devices like cash registers, medical equipment, or project management platforms. In fact, the internet is the backbone of efficiency in the workplace.  

That’s why it’s so important that everyone in the United States has access to broadband. It not only improves people's personal lives, but it positively impacts the overall workforce.

Broadband makes both job searching and recruiting easier

When you think about looking for a job, where do you go? Online.

According to a study done by Brookings in 2020, broadband makes it easier for job seekers to search for jobs, apply for them, and continue looking for longer. It also helps hiring managers seek out new employees online, a practice called e-recruiting. Posting a position on a company website or job board is less expensive than job fairs or traditional advertising, and creates access to a larger pool of candidates. Also, 60% to 70% of all active job openings in any month are now posted online according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

“Employers nowadays are looking for the best candidates, regardless of where they live,” said Chris McGovern, Connected Nation Director, Research Development. “Remote work and the ability to recruit global candidates helps businesses find the best employees.”

The trend of online job searching has only increased with the popularity of the internet over the past 20 years. According to the November 2021 NTIA Data Explorer Internet Use Survey, these states have the highest rates of people looking for jobs online:

  1. Washington, D.C. - 29.7%
  2. California - 26.4%
  3. Nebraska - 26.2%

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Broadband access creates opportunities for more people to do remote work

Access to the internet allows more people to hop on the latest work trend that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic — remote work. Remote work offers employment opportunities to individuals who cannot leave the house for various reasons, including: disability, caring for children, or caring for a sick loved one, as well as people who move around a lot, such as active military spouses, and many others.

“Remote workers repeatedly report having better work-life balances, and say they’re more satisfied with their work,” said McGovern. “The ability to work remotely is a major incentive for employees to remain with their current employers.”

To be able to work remotely, the employee needs reliable broadband access. The more broadband expands into underserved communities, the more opportunities are created for people to remote work. According to study done by Deloitte in 2021, their models indicate that a 10-percentage-point increase of broadband penetration in 2016 would have resulted in more than 806,000 additional jobs in 2019, or an average annual increase of 269,000 jobs.

Much like job seeking, the trend of remote work has only increased over the last couple years. Adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic showed many businesses that work can successfully be done from home. According to the NTIA Internet Use Survey, the following states have the highest percentage of individuals who telecommute:

  1. California - 55.3%
  2. Maryland - 36.6%
  3. Vermont - 33.6%

Importance of broadband access in anchor institutions

Job seeking, e-recruiting, and remote work are not the only reasons why broadband access positively impacts the workforce. According to the NTIA, for the U.S. workforce to continue to adapt to the digital economy, it’s critical that communities and their anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, and hospitals have access to broadband infrastructure to ensure that working-age adults can access educational opportunities, build job skills, and find employment.

To find a new job or even advance in a current one, workers’ skills must match today’s tech-driven job requirements. Many roles require digital literacy skills to complete basic job functions, such as submitting and tracking orders or entering time worked. By providing digital educational opportunities at anchor institutions, those seeking new jobs will be armed with essential skills, giving them a higher chance of finding employment and advancing their careers.

The U.S. workforce is always growing, and broadband infrastructure and access are more important now than ever. The national 501(c)(3) nonprofit Connected Nation (CN) is dedicated to making sure that everyone has access to high-speed internet so the American workforce can continue to thrive.

Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.


About the Author: Lily McCoy is the Connected Nation Senior Communications Specialist. Lily provides support to the Communications Department through social media outreach and writing. She also adds a source of creativity to the team with a background in personal relations and marketing. Lily has a bachelors in corporate and organizational communications from Western Kentucky University.