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Americans’ Web Search Habits Show Employment, Economy as Much Larger Concern Than COVID-19 Pandemic

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According to search engine data collected by US-Bookies.com, more Americans have been concerned about the economy than any other issue since January 2021. Compared to search terms surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration, January 6th, and voting rights, there were more searches across the country for terms related to the economy. This suggests that the economic impacts of the coronavirus now overshadow the public health implications, meaning Americans are now more interested in unemployment than case numbers.  

Unemployment is Top Priority Across the Country

Among terms monitored, “unemployment” appeared in the most searches over the past year. Across the country, people searched for “unemployment” more than 4 million times per month on average since the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidential term. It’s followed by “jobs,” which appeared in more than 1.5 million monthly searches. At the same time, “COVID cases,” “omicron,” and “vaccine” each appeared in, on average, more than 1.2 million searches per month. From this, it can be inferred that Americans grew more concerned with the pandemic’s economic effects than public health data over the past year. More specifically, unemployment and jobs are the top priorities for assessing the state of the economy among American citizens, as these terms appeared in more searches than other economic keywords, such as inflation,” “wage growth,” “GDP growth,” “gas prices,” and more. 

Most Searched Keywords About Political Issues in the U.S.

Conversely, January 6th and voting rights appear to be the issues Americans have been least concerned about over the past 13 months. Terms related to these issues, such as “January 6,” and “Capitol riot,” appeared in fewer monthly searches than other keywords related to other topics monitored by US-Bookies. 

Blue States Appear More Interested in the Border, January 6th and COVID cases

Search data also reflected varying levels of concern for certain issues depending on location. For example, when examining searches containing the word “border” per capita, Massachusetts saw the most, with more than 9.5 average monthly searches per 10,000 residents over the past 13 months. Washington, California, Vermont, and New York followed. One the other hand, Mississippi was at the bottom of the list, with fewer than 3 monthly searches on average per 10,000 citizens, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and Louisiana. This suggests that citizens of states that leaned Democrat in the 2020 election were more interested in the border than those in states that leaned Republican.  

Average Monthly Searches for “Border” per 10,000 Residents by State

Other topics noticed similar trends. When it came to searches for “January 6,” blue states were again at the top of the list. New York saw more than 1.8 monthly searches on average per 10,000 residents, which was the most over the past 13 months. Virginia followed closely, with Maryland, New Jersey and Vermont close behind. Mississippi was once again at the bottom of the list, noticing, on average, only 0.47 searches per 10,000 residents each month, with North Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Given the vast differences in the historic voting habits of the top and bottom five states, it could be inferred that the differences in searches per capita are driven to some degree by political stance.  

Average Monthly Searches for “January 6” per 10,000 Residents by State

When it came to researching COVID cases, blue states again made up the top of the list. In California, there were 62 average monthly searches for “COVID cases” per 10,000 residents since January 20, 2021, which were the most in the U.S. California was followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, and Pennsylvania, all voted Democrat in 2020. On the bottom of the list was Mississippi, which saw just under 10 average monthly searches per 10,000 residents. South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, and Louisiana followed to form the bottom five. 

Average Monthly Searches for “January 6” per 10,000 Residents by State

Political Stance’s Effect in Online Search Habits

When examining the search volume by state, population definitely plays a role in the total amount of times residents of a state searched for a specific term. States that have more people living in them would obviously see more overall searches than less populous ones and vice versa. However, the results for states like Texas and Florida seem to indicate that more factors are at play. Given the nature of the terms monitored, politics may play a role in the states’ search habits. More specifically, Texas and Florida are the second and third most populous U.S. states, respectively. But in looking at terms related to some of the most prevalent modern political issues, the two states do not show as much search active relative to the population as other smaller states. When examining raw volume of searches for “unemployment,” “border,” “January 6,” and “COVID cases,” Texas and Florida do appear in the top five for each. However, factoring in population size puts the two much lower on the lists. For “unemployment,” Texas and Florida are 19th and 21st in searches per 10,000 residents. For “January 6,” Florida is 18th and Texas is 22nd. For “border,” Texas is 18th and Florida is 24th. And when it comes to searches containing “COVID cases” per 10,000 residents, Texas and Florida rank 24th and 28th, respectively. Given that the relatively neutral tone of these keywords, one can assume the states’ populations’ political views can affect how often they search for such topics on search engines, as both state’s electoral votes went to Donald Trump during the 2024 election. 

How Search Habits Factor into Upcoming Elections

Based on search engine data, it’s evident that people are searching for unemployment- and jobs-related content more than any other major issue in today’s political landscape. So, it would not be far off to say that these are the biggest areas of concern for America’s voters. Knowing this, politicians who are up for election in 2022, as well as potential presidential candidates in 2024, would be wise to cater messaging to these habits. Though media coverage typically guides the conversations around the most important issues, search data can predict what citizens are actively interested in. 

At this point, political betting odds suggest that Republicans have a stronger chance than Democrats at taking majority control of Congress after the 2022 midterms. Similarly, Donald Trump is the current favorite to win the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election. This would align with the fact that economic growth are typically areas of strong Republican focus. Because jobs and employment seem to be the highest priority among Americans, it would match the notion that early data is showing good signs for Republican candidates. At the same time, it would mean that Democrats need to strengthen the messaging surrounding their efforts to improve the economy as a way to ease American voters’ concerns.

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Methodology

A list of keywords was chosen based on common terms being discussed in political media since January 20, 2021. These keywords were grouped into categories (economy, COVID-19, immigration, January 6th, and voting rights) based on which issue they most closely related to. US-Bookies gathered data detailing how many times, on average, Americans searched for these terms on Google’s search engine each month since January 20. This means that totals represent the average amount of times people searched for a given term per month over the last year. The keywords’ average monthly search volumes were compared to see which terms noticed the most searches among the U.S. 

To analyze results for each state, population sizes were factored in using data from World Population Review. Search volumes for each term were then compared according to population sizes to determine which terms were most important in each state, as well as how the levels of importance varied. Each state’s outcome in the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election was also factored in to determine political stance. For more information, and to access the full search data for all terms analyzed, click here.