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ESA: U.S. game industry grew 4x faster than the national economy

The ESA reports the United States video game industry is growing faster than the national average, though it has slowed in the past decade and remains unevenly consolidated in a handful of states.
The Entertainment Software Association published a report this week suggesting the United States video game industry is growing faster than the national average, though it has slowed in the past decade and remains unevenly consolidated in a handful of states. The ESA report [PDF] concludes that the U.S. video game industry grew at an annual rate of 9.7 percent from 2009 to 2012, more than four times the 2.4 percent real growth rate of the U.S. economy as a whole during the same period. While that sounds impressive, it's actually a bit anemic compared to an earlier ESA report which found the U.S. game industry hitting growth rates of more than 10 percent from 2005-2009 -- 7x the growth rate of the U.S. economy as a whole during the same period. "Our industry is one of the nation's fastest growing economic sectors and represents tens-of-thousands of high-paying, well-educated professionals, artists and creators," stated ESA president Michael D. Gallagher in a press release confirming the report. As of 2012, the ESA estimates 42,000 were directly employed in the U.S. video game industry across 36 states; that's over 30 percent more than the ESA reported in 2009. However, nearly 80 percent of those -- 32,652 workers -- are consolidated in seven states: California, Texas, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Florida and Illinois. California continues to host the largest percentage of U.S. video game industry workers, followed by Texas and Washington. Furthermore, this most recent ESA report concludes that U.S. residents directly employed by the video game industry reaped more than $4 billion in total compensation in 2012, based on data culled from Gamasutra's own annual game developer salary survey as well as employee counts and other corroborating information from a variety of industry sources. The game industry as a whole accounted for $6.2 billion, or roughly 0.04 percent of the estimated $15.4 trillion U.S. GDP in 2012. That's a bit better than 0.03 percent ($5 billion of $14.5 trillion) it accounted for in 2009. The full report includes a number of other interesting data points, including the following: - From 2009 through 2012, direct employment in the U.S. video game industry grew at an annual rate of nine percent. During the same period, total U.S. employment increased at an annual rate of 0.72 percent. - The ESA believes that over 146,000 U.S. jobs depend (both directly and indirectly) on the video game industry as of 2012. - The ESA also believes the average salary for direct employees of the U.S. video game industry in 2012 was $94,747 after you account for all forms of compensation, which doesn't match the findings of our own 2012 game developer salary survey. However, the ESA may have placed different values on the many forms of indirect compensation. For further details on the study's findings and its methodologies, check out the full report published by the ESA.

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