Americans who use the Internet are more likely to continue active job searches and less likely to drop out of the labor force than those without Internet access, especially among those who user broadband services, according to a new study by the Phoenix Center.
The study found broadband Internet users are at east 50 percent less likely to give up on job searches because of discouragement than those who do not use the Internet. Dial-up Internet users are about one - third less likely to drop out of the labor force.
"By connecting Americans to jobs and information about job opportunities, Internet usage feeds hope and encourages frustrated workers to keep on looking even when job prospects are dim," according to Phoenix Center President Lawrence J. Spiwak. "These findings suggest that broadband connectivity can contribute to economic recovery."
"Our study also shows the enormous potential benefit of community broadband centers for those who are not connected at home," Spiwak adds. "While broadband use at home delivers significant benefits, shared facilities can be a valuable solution to connectivity gaps in unserved and underserved communities."
The Phoenix Center says the new study provides insights to policymakers at a time when unemployment is high, with government estimates suggesting the unemployment rate, when broadly defined, now exceeds 17%. In fact, large numbers of Americans have given up looking for jobs because they think none are available.
The U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is responsible for the government's monthly data on employment and unemployment, estimates that adding "discouraged workers," as defined by the Bureau, who had quit looking for work as of December 2009, would boost the current U.S. jobless rate above the frequently reported 10 percent level.