Cloud Computing Contributed $214 Billion to U.S. GDP in 2017

Khakimullin Aleksandr/

Exponential economic growth in the internet sector isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

The U.S. cloud economy has grown three-fold since the early 2000s and added some $214 billion in value to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2017, according to a report released Tuesday by the Internet Association.

The report, which attempts to measure the macroeconomic impacts of cloud computing, compiles economic and cloud data through 2002 when some of today’s cloud titans—Amazon Web Services, Google and Rackspace—were still in their infancy. Those companies and others related to the growing cloud industry added 2.15 million jobs to the U.S. economy in 2017, according to the report.

“The cloud’s rapid adoption has made significant contributions to the U.S. economy,” said IA Chief Economist Christopher Hooton. “Expanding our understanding of the cloud’s macroeconomic impacts is essential to ensuring it continues to be a major economic driver. The U.S. cloud sector now rivals the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries combined and is growing every day.”

While cloud computing is a booming industry, it isn’t showing the same grow-and-plateau growth pattern traditional industries exhibit. Rather, it has grown exponentially, akin to the growth of the internet as a technology among Americans.

Cloud adoption has been slower in the public sector, with federal agencies making investments in cloud following the Obama administration’s Cloud First policy in 2011. Yet defense and civilian agencies combined to spend $6.5 billion on cloud service in fiscal 2018, and with two multibillion cloud contracts currently under acquisition, the Defense Department is primed to spend its most ever on cloud computing.

The report’s authors indicate cloud technology is a mainstay across government, although much of its potential in the public sector is yet untapped because almost 80 percent of the $90 billion federal IT budget is spent operating legacy IT systems.

“Cloud technology is a fundamental part of the country’s internet and economic systems,” said IA Director of Cloud Policy Alla Seiffert. “Policymakers and other stakeholders should recognize its major impact and continue fostering the growth of cloud computing.”