How Big is the U.S. Call Center Industry Compared to India and The Philippines?

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17 February 2015
The U.S. employs 7x the amount of call center workers compared to the largest offshore country.

With so much press about offshoring, nearshoring and onshoring of call center operations, there is very little information on the size of the call center industry in the most popular global call center locations. To evaluate the industry’s size, Site Selection Group analyzed its proprietary database of existing call center operations to compare the number of call center jobs in the U.S. to leading offshore destinations — India and the Philippines.   

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India drops to 2nd place

American Express and General Electric were the first companies to set up their back office operations in India during the ’90s.  The India market rapidly diversified into many non-voice back office activities such as IT development, shared service and transaction processing activities. The overall back office sector is now approximately 8% of India’s GDP and employs an estimated 3.1 million workers. However, voice-related call center operations have become only 10% of that workforce with estimated employment of 350,000 voice-related call center workers, according to the Contact Center Association of the Philippines.

The Philippines emerges as largest offshore location

The Philippines has now become the largest offshore voice-related call center market with more than 400,000 call center workers, according to the Contact Center Association of the Philippines. The overall industry, inclusive of the other back office related functions, has expanded to more than 1 million workers. Just last year, companies leased more than 5 million square feet of office space for back office and call centers including one of the biggest deals of the year by Citibank, which leased more than 500,000 square feet for an estimated 7,000 workers.

The US call center industry grows

Based on Site Selection Group’s proprietary database of existing call center operations across the U.S., it is estimated that there is in excess of 2.2 million workers employed in more than 6,800 call center facilities across the U.S. This number excludes home-based call center agents and call centers with fewer than 25 employees. Site Selection Group estimates the total call center workforce in the U.S. is approximately 3 million workers when these smaller operations are added into the equation.

Top 10 states based on call center employment

Site Selection Group has further dissected the call center employment data to identify the 10 states with the greatest number of call center workers. Texas and Florida lead the pack with almost 500,000 call center employees working in 1,138 facilities. The following table provides a summary of the results for the top 10 states:

         Top 10 Sates Based on Call Center Employment

States # of Call Centers # of Employees
Texas 591 247,214
Florida 547 226,137
Arizona 338 125,448
Georgia 332 124,997
Virginia 188 116,444
North Carolina 243 87,249
Pennsylvania 365 83,953
Ohio 281 77,842
Tennessee 236 66,121
New York 215 65,512

 

Conclusions

The call center industry has become an important part of the labor market in the U.S., India and the Philippines. The migration of call center jobs on- and offshore will continue with the economic cycles of the global economy and the fickleness of corporate America. Companies will continue to battle with finding qualified call center workers at a reasonable cost as the industry grows.