Job Numbers Predict Super Bowl Winner?

For those interested in the world of wagering, the Super Bowl is famous for its exotic opportunities — length of the national anthem, color of the Gatorade to be poured on the winning coach, etc. If you’re mainly interested in who wins the game, look no farther than unemployment statistics, according to an analysis by outplacement firm RiseSmart.

The team whose metropolitan area boasts the lower unemployment rate during the previous calendar year has won 17 of the past 20 Super Bowls – a remarkable 85 percent success rate.  Based on this correlation, the New England Patriots should claim the NFL championship over the New York Giants.  Through November, the 2011 unemployment rate for the Boston metropolitan area was 6.8 percent, compared to 8.5 percent for the New York metropolitan area.

On January 26, 1992, the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI; that year, the Washington, D.C. metro area’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent was substantially lower than Buffalo’s 7.2 percent. So began the string in which 17 out of 20 times, the Super Bowl winning city had a lower unemployment rate than that of the losing hometown. The predictor has been correct in the past three championship games, including Super Bowl XLV, in which Green Bay (7.7 percent 2010 unemployment) defeated Pittsburgh (8.0 percent).

Other facts of note:

• On the seven previous occasions that both teams’ metro areas have had unemployment greater than 5.5 percent – as is the case this year — the team from the metro area with the lower jobless rate has won in every instance.

• During the five previous occasions when at least one team represented a metro area with 7+ percent unemployment – as is the case this year, with the New York Giants – the team with higher unemployment lost in every instance. 

• The Giants’ upset victory over New England in Super Bowl XLII, when the Patriots entered the game undefeated, represents one of the three times in the past two decades when the unemployment rate predictor failed to predict the outcome of the game.

“Correlation does not imply causation, of course. And there are exceptions to every rule,” says Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart. “But one should never underestimate the power of having a job.”

It’s Called the Economics of Education

"A vigorous, successful public education system is essential to Georgia’s economic prosperity." That is the second sentence of a recent report from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

But you could substitute Georgia for the name of any other state. No matter the location, other key elements in the study also apply:

  • Main headline: Making the Connection: Why High School Graduation and Work Readiness Matter
  • How about this quote: "The best economic stimulus package is a high school diploma."
  • Or this pullout, in which the specific state numbers may vary, but the message is the same: "Approximately 50.7 percent of Georgia’s high schools are dropout factories — schools in which less than 60 percent of the freshmen class graduate on time."

The message is far from new. Even some of the factors contributing to the shortfall in Georgia have been cited in Indiana and elsewhere. They include sections on Early Life Experiences, Academic Achievement in Every Grade and Transition to Work or Postsecondary Education.

One of my favorite tools, and one you think would have an impact due to its straightforward approach, compares educational attainment to unemployment rates and average wages. We presented a similar chart in our lead story in the March-April BizVoice on higher education collaboration. The numbers, from the Georgia report:

  • Less than a high school diploma, 14.6% unemployment, $23,608 approximate annual earnings
  • High school grad, no college, 9.7% unemployment, $32,552 earnings
  • Some college/associate’s degree, 8.0% unemployment, $37,752 earnings
  • Bachelor’s degree and higher, 4.6% unemployment, $59,124 earnings

Read the study from Georgia here. It’s a shame these points have to be continually made instead of a total emphasis on improving our education systems to meet the glaring needs.

Numbering the Jobs Situation

We hear the unemployment rate each month, but here are a few other numbers to look at in regard to the economy and jobs:

  • Bad news: 8.5 million or so jobs lost in the recession, with more than 40% of those people out of work for more than six months (in 1983 that figure only got as high as 26%)
  • Better news: While January of this year saw a decline of 20,000 jobs, that paled to nearly 800,000 jobs lost in the same month a year ago
  • Interesting statistic: Many people forget about the job churn that constantly takes place within companies, industries or the economy as a whole. In the second quarter of 2009, 6.4 million people found jobs, but 8 million lost their positions

They’re not all coming back, but bad and better will give way to good and great eventually.