More economic predictions from user data
I recently blogged about Google’s attempts to predict economic variables from search data. Now Mint.com, which is an online personal finance management service, says that recent data from their users indicate that the US economy may be recovering.
Even though mint.com probably does not have data for a representative slice of the US population, it does have detailed economic information about more that 1 million users, which is not too shabby.
Mint says it has been releasing quarterly reports on user spending since the beginning of 2008, and every quarter since then spending-per-user (measured in eight categories) has declined, falling by 15 percent over the last year. That steady drop finally stopped in the second quarter of 2009, when spending actually increased by about $400, or a little more than 3 percent. Also encouraging: The biggest jump was in shopping and travel, where spending increased 17 percent, perhaps showing that users who had been holding off on purchases are starting to spend again.