US Loses Millions in Worker Productivity During World Cup

In the World Cup game when the United States played Germany, roughly 20 million Americans watched either on ESPN or by streaming it online. Using recent jobs data, about 14 million of those 20 million fans have jobs earning an average of $24.38 an hour. Being conservative, that works out to be about $682 million in lost labor productivity.

The United States is known for having some of the best sporting leagues the world can offer. However, soccer is not America’s sport – many would argue that baseball is; but lack of productivity at World Series time doesn’t cost near that amount.

We ranked 13th heading into this year’s world tournament, and were randomly placed in a group with powerhouses Germany and Portugal. Needless to say, many fans did not believe that we would make it to the knockout round of 16. However, Americans do like to come together and enjoy a good sporting event whenever possible, and maybe even take some time off work to make that happen.

Taking this a step further , the Wall Street Journal calculated that more than 10 minutes of each of the upcoming games will be consumed by “writhing time,” which is basically the time that the players spend on the ground trying to buy a penalty from the referee. This 10 minute period of faking injuries scattered throughout the game will result in about $50 million in lost labor productivity for the US.*

In the end, the US beat the odds and surprised many by advancing to the round of 16 by beating Ghana 2-1, tying Portugal 2-2, and losing to Germany only 1-0. Unfortunately for US soccer fans, the national team lost in the knockout round to Belgium by a score of 2-1 this past Tuesday. Company owners might be somewhat happy about this, but sports fans might be too depressed to return to full working productivity right away.

Co-written with Anders Intern, Scott Brightman