Friday, July 03, 2009

Is Rising Unemployment Affecting Website Traffic to Popular Social Media Sites?

While working on a recent project, I noticed the number of people visiting Facebook and LinkedIn increasing. I compared the increase in website traffic with unemployment figures from May 08 through May 09. The findings were surprising.

Website Traffic versus Unemployment Rate

There is a strong correlation between website traffic for Facebook and LinkedIn, but not MySpace. Here are the correlation figures:

Unemployment Rate/Facebook-- (+) 0.984167989
Unemployment Rate/LinkedIn-- (+) 0.825408734
Unemployment Rate/MySpace -- (-) 0.82843028

I do want to remind readers that correlation does not necessarily equal causation.

I don't want to jump to conclusions by saying Facebook and LinkedIn's website traffic is driven by consumers with more available time (as a result of being unemployed), but the strong correlation is interesting. While Facebook is more mainstream social media, LinkedIn could definitely be considered a professional networking site. More people may be visiting these social media sites to get in touch with friends and develop relationships, which may lead to future opportunities.

MySpace's website traffic trend has a negative correlation with the unemployment rate. This makes sense as MySpace caters to more of a tween audience, most of which may not be in the job market or seeking employment.

Anne Mai Bertelsen ( over on Musing Out Loud reveals similar findings.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about this data or findings.

Why do you think there is a correlation between the unemployment rate and website traffic to Facebook and LinkedIn?

Unemployment figures obtained from

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