Don’t rob banks

I adore this. The economic reasons why you shouldn’t rob a bank. This is only the introduction, the full piece has the figures:

The UK’s banking trade organization decided it wanted an analysis of the economic effectiveness of adding security measures to bank branches. The professors did that, but in the process, they also did an analysis that looked at the economics of bank robbery from the thieves’ perspective.

The results were not pretty. For guidance on the appropriateness of knocking over a bank, the authors first suggest that a would-be robber might check with a vicar or police officer, but “[f]or the statistics, look no further. We can help. We can tell you exactly why robbing banks is a bad idea.”

Economists demonstrate exactly why bank robbery is a bad idea – John Timmer, Ars Technica (14 June 2012)

Read the full piece.

What unemployed people Google and what that tells us

I’m not sure this is a wonderful indictment of human society but if the number of searches for pornography goes up, it can mean that the searchers are back in employment. Out of it, they were spending their time searching for jobs. Once they’ve got one, they’re searching for, well, anyway, indeed. (Have you hired someone recently? Don’t ask them.)

Google found that rising unemployment was not only linked to phrases such as “companies that are hiring.” It was also closely correlated to searches for new technology (“free apps”), entertainment (“guitar scales beginner”) and adult content (“jailbait teen”). The company said its data can improve the accuracy of standard estimates of economic data in a current month as much as 10 percent.

At the University of Michigan, [University of Michigan’s Matthew] Shapiro and his colleagues scoured more than 19 billion tweets over two years for references to unemployment, hunting for phrases such as “axed,” “pink slip” and “downsized.” They indexed the findings and compared them to the government’s weekly tally of people applying for unemployment benefits for the first time.

Their results are remarkably similar — and where they do diverge, the Twitter index may be more reliable. Computer malfunctions and the government shutdown last year distorted the official numbers, while the trends in Shapiro’s index held firm.

The Weird Google Searches of the Unemployed and What They Say about the Economy – Washington Post (30 May 2014)

Read more of what this analysis can find and remember that BBC newsrooms now regularly have rolling displays of what people are searching for. I’ve always assumed that was an edited list, I never saw anything untoward. But maybe the only people who read BBC News Online are unemployed.

Just five more minutes – or how we don’t like to stop

Even I think you need to stop working some times. For a bit. Not for long, obviously. But I work for myself and I wouldn’t swap this job for anything – seriously, I get to natter with you, what would I want to replace this with? – so you would imagine that people with office jobs don’t look at it the same way. I didn’t when I had an office job. Well, I did a bit. But the poll company Gallup says only 2 out of 10 workers in America think working late is a bad thing.

They were asked specifically about working remotely, so that’s checking your emails and using your phone rather than having to stay in the office, but still, it’s only 21% of those surveyed who said nah. Don’t wanna do that. Actually, it was 8% who folded their arms and 13% who were disgruntled.

While a strong majority of working Americans view the ability to work off-hours remotely in a positive light, far fewer say they regularly connect with work online after hours. Slightly more than one-third (36%) say they frequently do so, compared with 64% who say they occasionally, rarely, or never do. The relatively low percentage who check in frequently outside of working hours nearly matches the 33% of full-time workers who say their employer expects them to check email and stay in touch remotely after the business day ends.

Among those who frequently check email away from work, 86% say it is a somewhat or strongly positive development to be able to do so. However, this is only slightly higher than the 75% of less frequent email checkers who view the technology change positively. Even among employees for whom staying connected is compulsory, 81% view this development it in a somewhat or strongly positive light.

Most US Workers See Upside to Staying Connected at Work – Gallup (30 April 2014)

There is a stereotypically predictable slant in that young men are more likely to be happy with checking their emails EVERY BLOODY SECOND but also broadly the more you earn, the more you’re happy about working out of hours.

This is an American survey so it could of course be different here in the UK but one suspects not. And one suspects that there are few employers who won’t take advantage of this.