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Economic Perspective: Measuring the New Economy

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at measuring the new economy. Mike, many people date the current technologically based economy as beginning in 2008 at the introduction of the iPhone. What are some of the changes we’ve seen since then that give us measures of how much has really changed?”


“Well I’m going to give you a bunch of numbers here, but I think they do indicate how much we have seen in term of growth of the information, technology related economy. Let’s look at the number of cellphones, smartphones to be exact, in the world. In 2008, this is hard to believe, in 2008 there were only 100,000 smartphones in the entire world. Today, there’s 1.5 billion.”

“How about robots? 2008 there were about 50,000 robots in the world. Today, there are 400,000. Now I’m going to focus on the U.S., and let’s look at e-commerce. E-commerce activities have actually created 400,000 jobs in the U.S. over the last 10 years. In contrast, if you look at jobs in traditional brick-and-mortar retailing stores they’ve actually lost a cut, 100,000 jobs.”

“And then lastly active cellphone sites in the U.S. These will be things like the towers that you see as you’re driving along. They’ve doubled over the last 10 years; 150,000 in 2008, 300,000 now. So these are impressive gains, and I can see nothing but all of them going up, probably at an exponential rate, in the next 10 to 20 years.”

Mike Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook and public policy.