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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015

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

4 years

It’s only been a few months, but civilization has withered without Jon Stewart on television. But on Tuesday, HBO announced a four-year deal with the former host of “The Daily Show,” focusing at first on short-form content for the digital platforms, like HBO Go, you’re using your roommate’s girlfriend’s parent’s credentials to access. [Medium]

6.5 percent growth

Welcome to China, where GDP growth doesn’t matter and the points are made up. President Xi Jinping set a new GDP growth floor, “suggesting Beijing could tolerate growth as low as 6.5 percent.” But China’s economic figures are the subject of substantial skepticism from well-regarded analysts like the International Monetary Fund. [The Wall Street Journal]

20 times

Are you looking to hire someone to fill a tech job? Do you have a drug-free workplace? It’s probably best not to bring that latter point up: An advertisement for a technology position is 20 times likelier to perform among the worst quartile of ads if you mention that drugs are not welcome in your shop, according to a study of job postings by Texito, a language analysis startup. Having seen the documentary “Silicon Valley,” I can understand this reticence among programmers. [Bloomberg]

31 percent

Alcoa, the aluminum producer, will eliminate 503,000 metric tons of domestic smelting capacity due to the metal’s falling price. That amounts to 31 percent of the U.S.’s aluminum smelting capacity, a business that is rapidly moving overseas in search of cheaper labor and higher production rates. [Bloomberg]

41 percent genuine

A new report to Chinese lawmakers claims that less than 59 percent of products sold online in the nation in the past year were genuine. China has for years been seeking to overcome a reputation for counterfeit goods, but a booming e-commerce market means that nobody really wants to enforce the laws defining what’s real. [The Guardian]

50 percent

Percentage of younger millennials — those born between 1990 and 1996, like me — who believe in a god with absolute certainty, the lowest level of any age bracket according to a Pew Research Center survey. In the same age bracket, only 38 percent said religion was very important in their lives. [Pew Research Center]

59 percent

Percentage of adult Americans who took a prescription drug in 2012, up from 51 percent in 2000. [The Washington Post]

75 terabytes

Microsoft thought it was a great idea to offer “unlimited” cloud storage, until the obvious happened and several subscribers to its OneDrive service uploaded more than 75 terabytes of data each. This led Microsoft to realize its essential error: trusting consumers. Now, there’s a 1 terabyte cap on Microsoft’s unlimited cloud storage. For those keeping score at home, a terabyte is about 1,000 gigabytes, and while the concept of infinity has always confused me, I don’t think that qualifies as “unlimited.” [Slate]


Earnings of the average person in the top 1 percent of wage earners in 2014. In a terrifying tale of heartbreak and woe, the incomes of the top 1 percent may be stagnating. Unfortunately, the player of the world’s smallest violin has seen brisk work lately and is thus in this income bracket and unavailable for a performance. But, I assure you the player of the world’s smallest didgeridoo — a man of more modest means — was emphatically pouring it out for these poor souls. [FiveThirtyEight]

€2 billion

Or roughly $2.19 billion, the estimated cost of the economic risks inherent in the Volkswagen recall and diesel emissions scandal. That’s according to VW. [The Guardian]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.