RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Facebook’s data center fleet across the US, including one located in North Carolina’s Forest City, has collectively injected $18.6 billion into the US economy, according to a report released today.

RTI International, a nonprofit research institute based in RTP, collected and analyzed data from 2017 through 2019 with a focus on how operations across 11 locations have impacted local economies, the environment and communities.

It also found that Facebook’s $11.5 billion investment in data centers have supported an additional $4 billion in labor income and nearly 59,500 jobs — on average, each year elsewhere in the economy.

“We’ve studied Facebook’s changing data center fleet for the last several years and have closely tracked how this growth has positively impacted the US economy as a whole, as well as the communities where they are located,” said Sara VanLear, economic development researcher at RTI and project director for this study, in a statement.

Facebook’s Forest City data center

Facebook’s Forest City Data Center came online in 2012 and represents more than a $750 million investment in the state of North Carolina.

Today, the 1.3 million-square-foot campus supports more than 275 jobs, the report said.

Facebook currently has 13 data center locations in the U.S. with two new locations — DeKalb, IL and Gallatin, TN — announced in 2020. They also have three data centers in Europe and are building a data center in Singapore.

Each data center houses tens of thousands of computer servers, which are networked together and linked to the outside world through fiber optic cables. Every time users share information on Facebook, the servers in these data centers receive the information and distribute it to the user’s network of friends.

This is the second time RTI has examined the impact of Facebook’s data centers.

In 2018, RTI researchers conducted a separate study on the economic impact of Facebook’s data centers operating from 2010 through 2016.