Google’s economist Hal Varian says Google’s search patterns show that the economy is recovering:
Cecilia Kang, WaPo: In March, the number of Google users searching for information about unemployment benefits or employment centres began to drop, Varian said. Overall unemployment has continued to climb, of course, but new jobless claims have declined since peaking earlier this year.
“As a contemporaneous predictor, predicting the present through search queries has been a pretty good predictor of initial (jobless) claims,” said Varian, who was visiting Washington this week to make the case that government agencies should use Google tools to better draw current snapshots of consumer sentiment, corporate health and social interests.
There also has been an increase in searches for homes and real estate agents, he said, possibly foreshadowing new strength for the housing market. Google Trends, a tool that aggregates search terms, also showed an early spike in interest in the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” auto purchase incentive program this summer.