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Significant Digits For Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

9.4 percent

Decline in sales of new homes in July compared to June. The drop, an 8.9 percent fall compared to a year ago, was a surprise — economists were anticipating a small gain. New housing inventory is at its highest level since 2009, with 276,000 units on the market. [CNBC]


Weeks that “Despacito” has spent at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Just one further week and the song will tie a record set by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men in the mid-1990s. Carey’s fans are really pulling for Cardi B or Taylor Swift to unseat the song of the summer before the record has a chance to change hands. [Into, Billboard]

20 inches

Texas and Louisiana appear to be in the path of Hurricane Harvey, and the National Hurricane Center anticipates heavy rains in the region with a chance of bad flooding. The current forecast has a possibility of over 20 inches of rain before next Wednesday, which would be more than enough to cause severe flooding in some areas. [Grist]

75 percent

Percentage of the sand on California beaches that originated from the state’s rivers and streams — that is, before those rivers were aggressively dammed up. One side effect of the state’s dam use is that 2.7 billion cubic yards of sand has been trapped that otherwise would have made its way to the sea. [EE News]


There are more than 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, roughly 3,500 more than the Pentagon officially acknowledges. The difference comes from service members on shorter trips to the war zone who are not counted in the publicly disclosed number. [The Wall Street Journal]

$50 million

Approximate amount that Uber passengers have paid their drivers in tips since the ride-hailing company made in-app tipping available in late June. [Axios]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.