According to a report out this morning from The Hill, Facebook applications have created 182,000 jobs in the U.S. economy. And these aren't virtual jobs of virtual FarmVille hands. The application makers themselves have created 53,000 jobs, with an additional 129,000 jobs created indirectly, adding "$12.19 billion in wages and benefits to the U.S. economy." Zynga, the most well-known Facebook application maker out there of aforementioned FarmVille fame, employs 2,000 people directly, for example.
The study was done by a University of Maryland business professor in partnership with Facebook itself, so that jobs figure may be inflated a bit since the social network has a PR incentive to make itself look like a job growth engine. In fact, today's study may in part be a response to the growing strain of thought that while the U.S.'s high-technology sector is growing rapidly, it isn't creating as many domestic jobs as it should. (This recent Bloomberg Businessweek article by Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, may be the best example of that trend.)
That grain of salt aside, 182,000 jobs is nothing to cough at, especially considering the fact that the Facebook "app economy" is just a part of the larger application-based economy growing in the U.S. As a point of comparison, the entire U.S. economy created 105,000 net jobs this past summer. Those 182,000 Facebook app jobs, though, don't represent net job growth--some jobs created by Facebook applications could be squeezing employers in other industries, similar to how the auto makers of yesteryear squeezed the horse-and-buggy business.
The biggest irony of today's story, though, is that for all the jobs Facebook apps reportedly create, the social network itself, worth $X billion (fill in X for whatever ridiculous high the company's latest valuation drove it to), only employs a scant "2,000+" people.