So, this is cool. As reported in the Freakonomics blog, Google has a feature that allows users to correlate public patterns with search term usage. You supply data, such as initial unemployment claims, and Google will evaluate which search phrases best correlate with the data provided. Justin Wolfers reports,
I fed in the weekly numbers on initial unemployment claims—one of the most important weekly economic time series we have. The search term that is most closely correlated? Crikey, it’s “filing for unemployment.” Indeed, the correlation is an astounding 0.91.
Here’s the graph of time series on initial jobless claims and searches for “filing for unemployment”