As we noted two months ago, the US became an unsustainable service sector-based economy starting in the 1970s onward when service sector employment diverged from manufacturing without a corresponding boost in productivity.
Even Alan Greenspan warned that America is "in trouble basically because productivity is dead in the water." There are numerous reasons for this plunge in worker-productivity, from perverted inventives not to work to unintended consequences of monetary policy enabling zombies, but perhaps the most critical driver of recent productivity losses is captured by the following data point: 51% of total time spent on the Internet is on mobile devices - in 2015, first time ever mobile is #1 - to make a total of 5.6 hours per day snapchatting, face-booking, and selfying.
So, while every effort can be made by Ivory Tower academics to solve the problem of American worker productivity, perhaps it can be summed up simply as "Put The Smart-Phone Down!"
However, instead of putting away productivity-draining tools, Americans are about to lose several billion more in productive hours.
The reason? This.
As we reported yesterday, since Pokemon Go launched last Thursday, has taken America - and the world - by storm. In fact, the app briefly surpassed "Porn" as the most popular search term on Google.
Furthermore, while we await the first fatality from the game's zombification of its players, MacRumors reports a couple of incidents related to the game have already begun sprouting up over the past few days, bringing to light a few cautionary tales for everyone delving into the game. According to media reports, people are getting hurt seeking out Pikachu and fellow Pokémon. They're also getting a ton of exercise, and occasionally running into trouble.
So how hooked are smartphone owners to Pokémon? Research firm SimilarWeb found some stunning details: for one, Pokemon appears to have already surpassed Tinder in terms of Android Installs.
It’s not just on installs where Pokémon GO is killing it, on app engagement as well, the app’s usage has been unbelievably high. Over 60% of those who have downloaded the app in the US are using it daily, meaning around 3% of the entire US Android population are users of the app. This metric, which we refer to as Daily Active Users has put Pokémon GO neck and neck with Twitter, and in a few more days, Pokémon GO will likely have more Daily Active Users than the well-established social network.
But the most stunning detail is that in terms of Usage Time, Pokemon GO is already taking up an unprecedented amount of time. As of July 8th, the app was being used for an average of 43 minutes, 23 seconds a day, higher than Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Messenger!
At this rate, Pokemon could soon surpass the undisputed attention hog - Facebook. Recall that according to the NYT, the average amount of time a user spends on Mark Zuckerberg's social creation is a whopping 50 minutes.
The average time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour. That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours). It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes). It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours).
“When you really think about it, 50 minutes is a tremendous amount of time — it’s huge,” said Ken Sena, a managing director and analyst at Evercore who covers consumer Internet companies. “Usually, when a platform expands its user base, the average time spent goes down, because a lot of new people aren’t that active.”
Pokemon is about to surpass this.
Which begs the question: will all those minutes eat away from Facebook use (clearly a negative for FB stock), or will US worker productivity, already abysmally low, decline even further as far less time and effort is dedicated to productive efforts. The answer: probably a mixture of both, although we eagerly await to see what "seasonally adjusted" excuses tenured economists come up to justify away that US GDP output continues to decline even more in the coming months and years, and nobody can figure out the reasons why.