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The predictive power of Google searches in forecasting unemployment

Author

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  • Francesco D'Amuri

    () (Bank of Italy)

  • Juri Marcucci

    () (Bank of Italy)

Abstract

We suggest the use of an index of Internet job-search intensity (the Google Index, GI) as the best leading indicator to predict the US monthly unemployment rate. We perform a deep out-of-sample forecasting comparison analyzing many models that adopt our preferred leading indicator (GI), the more standard initial claims or combinations of both. We find that models augmented with the GI outperform the traditional ones in predicting the unemployment rate for different out-of-sample intervals that start before, during and after the Great Recession. Google-based models also outperform standard ones in most state-level forecasts and in comparison with the Survey of Professional Forecasters. These results survive a falsification test and are also confirmed when employing different keywords. Based on our results for the unemployment rate, we believe that there will be an increasing number of applications using Google query data in other fields of economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco D'Amuri & Juri Marcucci, 2012. "The predictive power of Google searches in forecasting unemployment," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 891, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_891_12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Google econometrics; forecast comparison; keyword search; US unemployment; time series models;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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