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The newest app? Creating jobs.

The entrepreneurial-minded app industry has created more than 520,000 jobs in its first five years – and should continue to be an area of growth in an otherwise weak economy.

By Correspondent / February 1, 2013

App designers work at Raizlabs last month in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 2003, the small company designs mobile software offering design, hosting and custom programming. App designers are in demand in the job market.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

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In his senior year at Bowdoin College in Maine, Ben Johnson led the development of an iPhone application called Free Time – a shareable calendar that reveals blocks of availability amid hectic schedules. He knew he was onto something when feedback quickly poured in from halfway around the world.

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"Getting a complaint from someone in Qatar that their weekend starts on Thursday, and we coded it to be Saturday and Sunday, is a pretty eye-opening complaint," Mr. Johnson, now 23, says.

Since its debut in May 2011, the app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times. Johnson's work earned the attention of Raizlabs, a Boston-based mobile software company, which offered the curly-haired Mississippian a job before he'd even walked the stage at commencement.

It's an impressive feat considering 53.6 percent of college graduates with bachelor's degrees under the age of 25 in 2011 were under- or unemployed, according to an April 2012 analysis by The Associated Press.

The mobile app industry is a rare bright spot amid an otherwise gloomy economy. The development of apps – specialized programs that run on a smart phone or other device – has created more than 520,000 US jobs over the industry's first five years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Entrepreneurial in spirit, social in execution, and global in reach, the industry is expected to experience job growth of 28 percent – twice as much as the projected average growth for all areas – between 2010 and 2020. The pay isn't bad, either. In May 2011, the median annual wage of applications developers was $92,080, according to the BLS.

"This industry, which literally did not exist five years ago, is exploding," says Jake Ward, cofounder of the Application Developers Alliance, a Washington-based industry association.

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