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Jobs Boom in Cities Where People Obsessively Network

An employee at the LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
An employee at the LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.Photograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Jobs were added to the economy fastest in cities where LinkedIn users have dense webs of connections, a new study finds. From 2010 to 2014, the “most-connected metro regions had more than double the job growth of the least-connected metro areas,” says the study, which was commissioned by LinkedIn and carried out by Michael Mandel, president of South Mountain Economics. (Disclosure: Mandel was chief economist at BusinessWeek, Bloomberg Businessweek’s predecessor publication.)

The study, titled “Connections as a Tool for Growth,” shows that job growth and density of connections are correlated, but isn’t proof that using LinkedIn more will cause cities to grow faster; it’s possible that the causality runs in the other direction. As Mandel writes, “It could be that more vibrant local economies bring professionals into contact with a growing number of other professionals, naturally leading to denser connections.” Mandel found that so-called connectedness was strongly associated with the rate at which the economy added jobs. For his research, he created an “index of connectedness” based on the average number of LinkedIn connections per member in the 275 metro regions in the U.S. and compared that with job numbers from the Bureau of Labor statistics. He then used a regression analysis to determine how correlated the two were (very).