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Significant Digits For Friday, Feb. 20, 2015

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, subscribe.

1-in-4 IPOs

While a lot has been made of the potential for a tech bubble, flying under the radar is the possibility of a biotech bubble. One-in-four initial public offerings in 2014 were biotech firms, and medical device and biotech firms raised $8.6 billion in private funding last year. Many of these companies need to pass regulatory and scientific hurdles, so they’re a hell of a gamble. My conservative, sandwich-heavy portfolio is a much safer play. [Quartz]

6 feet

A new report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change says sea levels could rise by as much as six feet by 2100 in the worst-case scenario. The panel’s previous worst-case estimate was 2-4 feet. [Scientific American]

$9 per hour

Wal-Mart, the largest retailer on Earth, announced it will raise the minimum wage of its U.S. employees to $9 per hour. It is the latest sign the growing economy may finally be boosting the pay of low-wage workers. [FiveThirtyEight]

24.8 percent

Percentage of uninsured Americans with incomes above the poverty line who said they had heard nothing about a tax penalty next year for those who remain uninsured, a part of the Affordable Care Act. [Urban Institute]

26 percent

Increase in the average weight of pickup trucks since 2000. The trend toward bigger pickups has been driven, in part, by Americans liking big trucks — pretty sure that’s in the constitution somewhere. But federal regulations, which allow bigger vehicles to be less fuel-efficient, have also played a role. [Bloomberg Business]

38 percent

Percent of Americans who have passports, up from 3 percent in 1989. This, if anything, means this country has become less patriotic — I had a layover in Canada once when I was 10, and I still feel undeserving to call myself an American. [Dadaviz]

385 percent

This year’s top Oscar nominees — those contending for best picture, best director, best actor and best actress — saw their illegal download rate increase an average of 385 percent in the 30 days after nominations were announced. “This is why the fifth amendment exists,” exclaimed a local lifestyle writer. [Bloomberg Business]

1,009 weeks

A Bollywood rom-com,”Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,” just wrapped up the longest theatrical run ever, 1,009 weeks at the Maratha Mandir. The run began in October 1995. That’s as if “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” had been in a theater since its premiere. [Yahoo News]


Approximate cost to book Salt-N-Pepa for your wedding, bar mitzvah or particularly awesome funeral. There’s a whole cottage industry around booking elapsed acts from the 1990s for private events. [Bloomberg Business]

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And, as always, if you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.