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TRENDING: Bay Area public interest topics, 2020

cover imageBay Area shows affinity for health, racial equity, economy since onset of COVID-19 lockdown

July 16, 2020 – Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies has compiled an assessment of Bay Area public interest trends based on web searches conducted since March 15 via Google Trends. This compilation provides a human-interest sidebar to the numerous economic data releases published by the Institute since the onset of the pandemic.

As Bay Area residents learned to navigate their new-normal of sheltering-in-place over the past several months – which for many included elements of remote work, distance learning, and childcare – there are some commonalities among Google search terms that illuminate their interests and needs. At the same time, the region has been deeply engaged in a broader movement around racial injustice.

These highlighted trends are grouped by common terms used for Google web, shopping, and news searches by Bay Area residents between mid-March and mid-July.

“Google trends are arguably more fascinating than any public interest survey you could conduct,” said Rachel Massaro, the Institute’s Director of Research. “People Google what they’re interested in, period; and it turns out that since the onset of the pandemic, Bay Area residents care about a relatively small handful of things – protecting themselves in the face of this massive public health crisis, keeping themselves occupied and fit while they shelter-in-place, accessing unemployment information and stimulus funds, and staying up-to-date on COVID-related policies. At the same time, a lot of focus is being placed on issues related to racial injustice and equity.”

Insights from Google Trends

The most rapidly rising search topics between mid-March and mid-July included:

Web:

  • Coronavirus-related policy and economic topics, including shelter-in-place, stimulus, unemployment, Employment Development Department/EDD, UI Online, Internal Revenue Service, furlough, Gavin Newsom, and check
  • Coronavirus-related health topics, including virus, mask, and thanking “coronavirus helpers”
  • Remote work and distance learning, such as Zoom and Google Classroom
  • Racial injustice and equity, such as protest (with search queries for George Floyd and Juneteenth)
  • Home needs, such as bread, delivery, and plants
  • Game/gaming products such Minecraft and several topics related to Animal Crossing

WEB word cloud

Shopping:

  • Sports/exercise equipment and outdoor recreation, including swimming pools/swimming, mountain bikes, exercise, dumbbells, and tents
  • Home needs and necessities, such as toilet paper (and wet wipes), air conditioning and fans, patio and garden furniture, and kitchen appliances
  • Coronavirus protection, face masks, cotton/textiles/sewing machines associated with queries on how to make face masks, cleaning products – specifically Lysol and Clorox, and rubbing alcohol
  • Game/gaming products such as Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and action figures including Legos and various types of comics

SHOPPING word cloud

News:

  • Racial injustice and protests, including Black Lives Matter, riot, looting, curfew, police officer, and Minneapolis
  • Policies and economics, including stimulus, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Barack Obama, shelter-in-place, Gavin Newsom, oil prices, mask, and payment
  • Coronavirus health, such as mask, test, research, and search queries for Gilead
  • Sports and gaming, including golf and Animal Crossing

NEWS word cloud

table showing increase in WEB, SHOPPING, and NEWS search terms

Data source:

Google Trends accessed July 15, 2020.

Note:

Google Trends search period included 3/15/20 through 7/15/20 for the “San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose” region. Search terms include both topics and queries, which were only combined when the text was exactly the same, disregarding capitalization. Word clouds were created using the Word Art online tool.

Analysis:

Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

For further reference

To access Silicon Valley’s online data hub, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

About the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

The Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies is the research arm of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and is housed within the organization. The Institute provides research and analysis on a host of issues facing Silicon Valley’s economy and society. For more information, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

About Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Established in 1993, Joint Venture provides analysis and action on issues affecting the Silicon Valley economy and quality of life. The organization brings together established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues, launch projects and work toward innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.jointventure.org.

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