With the Super Bowl matchup set, media pundits and NFL enthusiasts will spend two weeks poring over data to determine whether the Baltimore Ravens or the San Francisco 49ers will take home the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 3.
We’ve identified our own prediction strategy after stumbling upon an interesting trend over the past 25 years: The city whose metropolitan area boasts a lower unemployment rate has won 20 out of the past 25 Super Bowls. Based on that correlation, the Ravens should claim the NFL championship.
The Super Bowl always sparks a great deal of spirited debate among commentators and fans. Our annual RiseSmart Super Bowl predictions are a reminder that these events should be fun and that now more than ever the economy has a part in our national discussions.
Over the past two years media outlets have published numerous stories pointing to the quirky correlation. CNBC’s 2012 story featured two reporters debating their stat-filled prediction strategies to pick the winner.
Breaking down the stats
The RiseSmart predictor is based on the jobless rates in the competing cities in the calendar year preceding each game. Through November, the 2012 unemployment rate for the Baltimore metropolitan area was 7.2 percent, compared to 8.2 percent for the San Francisco metropolitan area.
Certainly, the correlation between unemployment and success in the Super Bowl is unusual, but its 80 percent success rate is undeniable. Perhaps we can chalk it up to the idea that a fan base with higher employment is more likely to attend games, buy team merchandise and cheer on their team with friends. By contrast, a metro area struggling with high jobless rates might subtly but negatively impact its team’s success.
Some intriguing facts
Super Bowl XLVII is the fourth consecutive Super Bowl in which both teams hail from a metropolitan area with an unemployment rate over 6 percent. Before 2010, the last time the two Super Bowl teams both came from cities with jobless rates exceeding 6 percent was 1994, when Dallas defeated Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVIII.
The New York Giants’ upset victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI represents one of the five times in 25 years when the unemployment predictor failed to predict the outcome of the game. Two of the other five times were also upset wins by the Giants – over favored Buffalo in 1991 and undefeated New England in 2008.
The power of employment
When it comes down to it, one should never underestimate the power of having a job. It impacts workers, their families, their cities, and – just maybe – their football teams.