Bank of England looks at Google habits to track economic trends

The Bank of England is increasingly turning to Google and peoples’ search habits to measure the economy, the bank announced in its latest quarterly bulletin.

So whether you’ve been searching for ‘jobs’ or ‘unemployment’, you may have been helping the Bank collect data on the state of the economy.

Google’s ‘Insights for Search’ is proving to be a popular tool to determine what economy-related terms people have been searching and in what volume, as it can track and compare searches from 2004 onwards.

"Internet search data have the potential to be useful for economic policy making," wrote Nick McLaren and Rachana Shanbhogue in the quarterly bulletin released by the bank.

"As further developments are made in this area, and the backrun of the data increases, these data are likely to become an increasingly useful source of information about economic behaviour."

Although the Bank admits that the approach has its limitations, it believes online search data can be an increasingly useful source of intelligence about the state of the UK.