The Super Bowl and Unemployment

Staying true to tradition, the team with the lower unemployment rate – the Green Bay Packers – won the Super Bowl. As reported by Sanjay Sathe at the Risemart Blog, the team whose metropolitan area boasted the lower jobless rate won 16 of the 20 Super Bowls from 1991 to 2010 – an 80 % success rate.  With an unemployment rate of 7.7%, the Green Bay Packers are now the 17th team to follow this historical correlation, beating out the Pittsburgh Steelers, at 8.1% unemployment.  Sanjay explains:

[C]orrelation doesn’t imply causation. But you could argue that a fan base with lower unemployment is more likely to attend games, buy team gear, celebrate at sports bars and, ultimately, cheer their team on to victory. By contrast, a metro area that is struggling with high unemployment might have a subtle but insidious effect on its team’s morale.

The Pittsburgh unemployment rate may continue to increase if steelworkers in Pittsburgh failed to heed their employer’s warning about missing work on Sunday or Monday as a result of the game.  One company sent employees a clear message that skipping a scheduled shift for the Super Bowl is not a permissible absence.

When discussing football and unemployment, what remains to be seen is how the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement in March 2011 and the on-going negotiations between the NFL and the Players Association will play out. According to, over 115,000 jobs will be affected if there is a lockout. For more about the issues surrounding the negotiations, the Communications on Sports Business blog has some interesting insight. Check back at Employment & the Law for updates as negotiations continue.

About Ashley Kasarjian

Attorney at Snell and Wilmer in Phoenix, Arizona, and publisher of the blog, Employment and the Law.
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2 Responses to The Super Bowl and Unemployment

  1. Dear Miss Kasarjian:

    Excellent point. While I agree the correlation does not imply causality, the pattern is certainly interesting, to say the least. Mr. Sathe’s observations cover some of the most vital elements to a property’s success both on the field and in the front office. Game attendance (ticket sales), “team gear” sales (licensed merchandise sales), team-centered activity at local establishments (fan loyalty and a property’s impact on both local business and culture), and a rewarding fan experience (city/state pride and higher resident morale) all have direct effects on a property’s bottom line and its brand equity. The team also benefits from a financially secure fan base in a variety of other ways.

    Thanks for the reference to my blog. Drop me a line anytime you wish to discuss sports and all the business that keeps them going. Keep up the good work!


    Cam Suarez-Bitar
    Communications on Sports Business blog

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I certainly enjoy reading your blog, and I imagine that there will continue to be many interesting posts in the upcoming months as the CBA negotiations continue. I look forward to reading them — Have a great day!

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