How Tweets Beat the Government Employment Reports

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The instantaneous nature of social media has had its share of detractors. Be it a reduction in social skills or a loss in productivity, social media can take people out of reality. Despite this, the rapid-fire ways of microblogging has proven handy when gathering a more accurate estimate of the U.S. employment situation than the government can provide.

University of Michigan Professor Matthew Shapiro headed the social media examination along with colleagues from the Survey Research Center, Stanford University and several computer scientists, reports International Business Times. The team searched key phrases related to employment, vetting any tweets that weren't applicable.

Their results surprised even them Shapiro stated in a recent press release that the group didn't expect to track job loss through Twitter. Since the research began two years ago, it has done just that.

The Shapiro study was able to accurately factor for events such as Hurricane Sandy and the government shutdown, mirroring the federal employment report. Then, when California's new statewide computer system caused delays in unemployment claims processing, social media and the index were there to record it. Being on the pulse of the country cut the waiting game out of their report.

With technology providing for more accurate real time analytics, we could see more insights like the Shapiro social media index. This could possibly diminish the importance of former statistics-gathering methods, like calling landline phones. Currently, most government studies can take a month or longer to pull data. Now, with subjects divulging information on social media, it could be interesting to see what other sorts of swift analysis can come from all of those hashtags and status updates.
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