The New York Times
Thursday, April 16, 1998

U.S. Report Weighs Impact of E-Commerce

WASHINGTON -- Information technology, including business on the Internet, is growing twice as fast as the overall economy, according to the Commerce Department's first comprehensive survey of electronic commerce and its impact on the economy.


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The report, released on Wednesday by Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, also found that the industry employs 7.4 million workers, some of whom earn among the nation's highest average salaries.

The report also found that:

"Information technology is truly driving the U.S. economy -- more than previous estimates had revealed", said Rhett Dawson, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington-based trade group.

The report recommends that governments stay out of the growing industry, saying electronic commerce shouldn't be "burdened with extensive regulation, taxation or censorship."

The government instead should help provide a legal framework for business on the Internet, and rules should result from "private collective action, not government regulation'' whenever possible, the report said.

The Commerce Department said consumers must be getting more comfortable making online credit-card purchases: 10 million people in the United States and Canada had purchased something on the Web by the end of 1997, an increase from 4.7 million people six months earlier.

The Commerce report also notes a shortage of highly skilled workers and recommends that students be better prepared.

"Countries that have an insufficient supply of skilled workers will see high-skilled, high-paying jobs migrate to countries that can supply the needed talent", the report said.

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