A report commissioned by Google and published by Deloitte Access Economics shows that the direct contribution of the Internet to the Australian economy is valued at $50 billion, while wider benefits through productivity gains is at $27 billion and the value of benefits to households is at $53 billion.


“To put this contribution into context, the value of the Internet is comparable to major sectors such as retail, which makes a $53 billion contribution to GDP,” the report reads.


Household savings through the use of the Internet were calculated by assigning a monetary value to time save through the use of the Internet, including activities such as paying bills online and allowing for an increased access to a variety of goods and services delivered at more competitive prices than normal retailing.


The report also considers the value of the sector to national employment.


“Today, there are 190,000 jobs that are directly related to the Internet such as web designers, online marketers, network engineers, and IT teachers. Many of these jobs didn't exist even fifteen years ago.”


Economists predict that the Internet will keep growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy, which means that by 2016 the direct contribution of the Internet to Australia’s GDP will increase from $50 billion to $70 billion. This is comparable to the contribution to GDP of the healthcare sector today.


Over the same period the growth of the Internet will also see approximately 80,000 more Australians employed in areas directly related to the Internet. Finally, Australia’s use of the Internet is expected to expand more rapidly than other developed economies, which will progressively close the gap between Australia and the world’s leading digital economies.


Economists are basing their predictions on certain factors such as the investment in the infrastructure that supports the Internet, such as the continued rollout out of the National Broadband Network.


Other factors include the speed of uptake of new technologies that provide access to the Internet, the development of new applications such as social media sites, an increase in businesses and governments using the Internet to connect with the world, and households incorporating the Internet more into their daily lives and purchase behaviours.


The full report can be found here