A new Microsoft-sponsored survey has enabled the company to deliver a none-too-subtle message to the US government: its money is helping to keep a major US state, Washington, afloat.
The survey's release may be timely for the software company, which is currently facing the latest in a string of Justice Department investigations into complaints of antitrust. Microsoft claims that the study, by Seattle economist Dick Conway, shows that it was the single biggest contributor to economic growth in Washington state between 1990 and 1995 and helped stave off the worst of the recession there.
The software supplier is following a lead set by aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which in 1990 commissioned a similar survey from Conway. That survey revealed that Boeing was Washington?s largest private sector employer and that no other state was as dependent on a single company as Washington.
Over the five-year period covered by the survey, the company was directly responsible for creating and sustaining 66,140 jobs, says Conway. As well as paying out more than $585 million a year in wages, stock options increased the financial contribution made by the company to the state economy. Last year, the 9,940 Washington residents working for Microsoft cashed in $793 million worth of options, boosting average take-home pay for company employees to $138,270.
In addition, Microsoft makes a bigger indirect contribution to state employment than other companies. The survey suggests that one Microsoft job leads to almost 3.5 others in local service and support industries. Other manufacturing jobs in Washington state typically generate a further two. Conway said the Microsoft figures were higher because the company pumped more money per employee into the state economy.
According to Conway, the new study was commissioned by Microsoft because it was "just curious" about the role it plays in the economy. But while the state?s dependence on Microsoft is nowhere near as pronounced as it was with Boeing, the quantifiable clout that the survey reveals the company to have in the local economy will obviously do no harm to its influence in political circles in the other Washington.
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