Is there a heretofore-unexamined connection between male handwashing trends in public restrooms and the U.S. economy? An article in this morning’s WSJ got me thinking about the subject.
The article described some of the nifty stuff entrepreneurs are doing to make it easier to exit public restrooms without touching the door handle. And that got me mentally mulling why we’re currently so fixated on the handwashing subject, what with it hardly being news that public restroom door handles are like medieval street gutters.
And then it came to me: The economy is weakening. Maybe there is an inverse relationship between handwashing and the economy: The weaker the economy, the more nervous people are about missing time at work, so the more they wash their hands in public restrooms. Okay, it’s a stretch, but it’s Friday, so let’s try it anyway.
I looked at a study from the American Society of Microbiology where it did hand-washing checks in public restrooms in major U.S. cities in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Just to keep things comparable, I limited myself to one city — New York — and one location — Grand Central Station. Did the data show an inverse relationship, as posited, between male handwashing in public restrooms and GDP growth?
Here it is:
Whoa, as you can see, male hand-washing rises and falls at New York’s Grand Central Station inversely correlated with U.S. GDP growth. Where’s Robert Shiller when you need him? We need a new tradable index.