Are people no longer looking for furlough information?
That’s one of the conclusions that could be drawn based on trends in Google search data. While the mandatory unpaid days of leave are causing hardship for thousands of federal workers, data from the millions of searches conducted on Google’s servers reveal that people are not as interested in furloughs as they were earlier in the year.
Back in January, the likelihood of the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration was still unknown, and forced unpaid leave was merely a threat. As the months passed -- and the cuts went into effect -- Americans began using the search terms “furloughs” and “federal furloughs” more often.
After sequestration kicked in at the beginning of March, searches for “furloughs” saw a dramatic spike, according to the data. In late April and early May -- when the media provided significant coverage of the implementation and almost immediate cancellation of furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration and resulting flight delays -- Google users searched the word “furloughs” more than any other time this year.
However, in recent weeks, the number of furlough queries has declined dramatically. With virtually all federal agencies having announced their furlough intentions through September, Americans are now searching for “furloughs” and related terms at the lowest rate since before sequestration went into effect. Searches are at their lowest levels since April 2011, when the threat of a government shutdown precipitated a major spike in searches for the term.
According to Google’s data, areas with a high concentration of federal workers were among the top regions searching for “furloughs.” Those included Washington D.C.; Virginia; Maryland; and North Carolina. Related searches focused on specific elements and agencies affected by sequestration, including “DoD furloughs,” “government furloughs,” and “FAA furloughs.”
Check out our graph below to see how frequently people have looked up “furloughs” and “federal furloughs.”