Matthew Shapiro

Matthew ShapiroResearchers have found that government jobs figures are no longer as accurate as they once were because the unemployed have become less willing to keep responding to surveys designed to track employment. But a new solution may have emerged: Twitter. ISR researcher Matthew Shapiro and colleagues analyzed tweets stripped of identifying data to measure changes in the unemployment rate by looking for references to job loss and related outcomes. “Naturally-occurring data, whether from accounts or social media, have the potential to reduce respondent burden, reduce the cost of data collection, and improve data quality while protecting the confidentiality of individuals,” Shapiro explained. The University of Michigan Social Media Job Loss Index, featured in an Aug. 27 CBS Moneywatch article, found significant job market fluctuations after Hurricane Katrina hit, and also came up with more accurate figures than the Bureau of Labor Statistics after the installation of new computers delayed processing unemployment claims.