Lack of Home Internet Service and Digital Literacy Training Negatively Impacts Employment Opportunities

The technology level of the community has a tremendous influence on the local economy. Findings from the Digital Inclusion Network focus group identified that small businesses, especially those in underserved communities, need basic training in many aspects of communications technology to obtain economic advancement. One example noted that small businesses that have adopted “Square” © technology have become more efficient, increased sales, and can participate better in the “digital economy.”

Data from a Multnomah County survey of a wide range of local businesses conducted in early 2020 illustrated that 68% of employers find communication services and technology very-to-extremely important to improving an employee’s productivity (50% of responses were “extremely important”). When asked “whether the availability of a technically skilled, internet-savvy workforce is critical to the success of their business,” more than half (56%) agreed or strongly agreed with that premise.

Data from a Multnomah County residential survey conducted in early 2020 illustrated that home broadband internet availability substantially affects the community’s economic prosperity and opportunity. Data from the survey indicates that nearly 1 in 4 residents frequently run their businesses from home (22% of respondents); over half require internet access at home for their job (52% of respondents); and 1 in 3 have someone in their household who teleworks (33% of respondents). These numbers are likely to be substantially higher as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.