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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017

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

49.9 percent-48.4 percent

Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore with 49.9 percent of the vote to Moore’s 48.4 percent in the Alabama special U.S. Senate election for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [FiveThirtyEight]

18 jets

Canada will walk away from a plan to buy 18 Boeing jets and instead purchase secondhand planes from Australia for about $388 million. The move is in reaction to Boeing’s trade challenge against Montreal’s Bombardier, which the American plane company has accused of dumping airliners on the U.S. market. Canada did not take kindly to that. [Reuters]


For six minutes, it cost a single-occupant car $40 to get on the express lane into Washington, D.C., on I-66. This is part of a congestion pricing plan: Anyone with more than one person in the car pays $0 in tolls, and those traveling alone in the express lane pay a toll that depends on the distance traveled and how busy the road is at the time. The average tolls are considerably less than that particular eye-popping figure. [Wired]

58 college presidents

There were 58 people making over $1,000,000 per year in total compensation as the presidents of private, non-profit colleges in 2015, up from 39 in 2014 and 32 in 2013, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s calculations. The average compensation to run a school was $569,932, which was 9 percent higher than the average in 2014. [Bloomberg]

93 percent

A Water UK study found that baby wipes made up approximately 93 percent of the material in the disgusting sewer blockages that have been plaguing the nation. While “fatbergs” get headlines, the study highlighted the 300,000 U.K. sewer blockages that cost £100 million. [The Guardian]

$6.1 billion

President Trump’s Department of Labor has proposed a rule that would allow restaurants to take the tips from servers and redistribute them among un-tipped staff such as dishwashers. But it doesn’t require that those tips be redistributed among un-tipped staff — so legally, as long as the tipped employees are paid minimum wage, the restaurants can just keep the confiscated money. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that under the new rule, employers would pocket about $6.1 billion in employees’ tips annually, or some 16.9 percent of all annual tips. [Economic Policy Institute]

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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.