THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, the Commerce Department released the first ever official estimate of retail e-commerce sales -- or "e-tail" sales. This is a historical landmark that symbolizes and helps measure our transition to a new information economy. We first started keeping track of retail sales on a monthly basis in 1951. The announcement that e-tail sales over the Internet and other electronic networks reached $5.3 billion in the 4th quarter of 1999 is an important step to ensure that we have accurate and timely information about the economy in the 21st century.
This is only the latest evidence of the dramatic contribution that the Internet, information technology and e-commerce have made to what is now the longest economic expansion in history. When I became President in 1993, there were 50 sites on the World Wide Web. Today there are more than 10 million. The information technology industry now accounts for fully 1/3 of our economic growth, and the jobs it creates pay almost 80 percent more than the private sector average. Using the Internet, families can obtain lower prices and better choices for everything from groceries, to home mortgages, to automobiles. Our goal must be to continue to support the basic research that has allowed the Internet to flourish, to enable every American to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of the new economy, and to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected in the information age.