Welcome to this week’s edition of The Labs Report. 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken a look at how the gig economy is faring during the COVID-19 pandemic, what names are most popularly used to describe the virus, and the conversational themes most discussed in relation to COVID-19.

About a month ago, we also analyzed how COVID-19 was affecting conversations around the economy. In this edition of The Labs Report, we’re taking a fresh look to see how things have changed.


In Focus: The Difference a Month Makes 

Before we dig into the data, here’s a quick refresher on our methods when examining data around economic indicators and COVID-19:

Because there is so much noise around the state of the economy at present – as well as COVID-19 itself – we decided to focus our analysis by examining the seven key economic indicators as laid out by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, along with our own look at the stock market in general.

To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on conversations around these key economic indicators, we analyzed every mention that referenced each of our eight key indicators and COVID-19 across the entire media spectrum over the last week, compiling one mean impact, or Media Quality Score, for each indicator.

Media Quality Score (MQS), a metric developed by Zignal Labs, employs natural language processing and AI to measure the impact of a piece of media coverage (in news & blogs), producing a score ranging from -10 (higher negative impact) to +10 (higher positive impact). See here for more details on how this score is generated.

In the charts below, which illustrate data from the week when we first reported on this topic (the first chart) and this past week (the second chart), the blue bar shows the volume of stories in news and blogs that mention a particular economic indicator in conjunction with COVID-19. The purple bar shows the mean Media Quality Score for the associated coverage.

Week of February 28th – March 6th

Week of March 27th – April 3rd (This Week)

Right off the bat, the most apparent difference between the two weeks is the massive reduction in the volume of stories related to the Federal Reserve indicator. The last time we reported on the topic, the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates to try to stimulate the economy in the initial stages of panic around COVID-19.

Looking at data from this week, although The Federal Reserve still saw the most chatter, the volume of stories is more distributed across the other indicators, with the Real Gross Domestic Product indicator seeing the most significant increase.

In terms of MQS scores, there are some major differences between the two weeks. During the week of February 28th, for example, half of the economic indicators had negative MQS scores, while this week, only one, Nonfarm Payrolls & Unemployment Rate, had a negative score of -0.49 (more on that below).

Week of March 27th – April 3rd (This Week)

Taking a closer look at the only indicator that had a negative impact score this week, we discovered that the Nonfarm Payrolls & Unemployment Rate indicator saw a significant amount of chatter this week (the chart above includes data from all media sources, not just news and blogs like MQS).

Volume peaked on Monday afternoon (both in volume and negative sentiment), when it was reported that as many as 47 million Americans could lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Other top stories of the week from The New York Times and Bloomberg discussed narratives related to unemployment, both in the United States and worldwide. 

March 6th – April 3rd

In more positive news, the MQS score for the Stock Market indicator has been on an upward trend since our last Labs Report on the topic, starting at -1.7 on March 6th and ending at +1.3 today.


While You Wait

For more information and resources related to COVID-19, please visit Zignal’s dedicated COVID-19 Response Page, where you’ll find best practices, data-driven analyses and shareable content you can leverage in your response to COVID-19.

To learn how public health best practices can help you create an impactful communications strategy fit for these unprecedented times, please join Zignal Labs for an exclusive virtual town hall on Wednesday, April 8th – reserve your spot now.