Brett Kavanaugh took his seat on the Supreme Court yesterday after a contentious confirmation process and narrow Saturday vote. The decision transfixed the nation and potentially cost employers billions in lost productivity, even more than the all-consuming March Madness tournament.
HR consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas annually calculates the productivity costs to businesses of such top events, including the recent controversial hearing.
It estimates that approximately 70 million people watched or read about the dramatic September 27 hearing on their work computers, cell phones and televisions, leading to a loss of nearly $1.8 billion per hour as workers followed the news.
Some spent nearly two to three hours of their work day that week focused on the testimony, the firm estimates. Since then, as employees have debated the case in advance of the final vote or refreshed their browsers for updates, the total loss to employers has grown to an estimated total of $12.6 billion.
By comparison, the firm estimates that the annual NCAA tournament, a perennial productivity killer, costs businesses $4.6 billion in total, or nearly one third the loss of the Kavanaugh hearing.
The firm's calculation for the Kavanaugh decision is based, in part, on an average hourly wage of $25.39 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the assumption that only around 80 percent of workers are at their jobs on any given weekday.
It also factors in the number of workers who use the internet at work — more than 90 million, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration — and other data on the share of workers who use the internet at work and are interested in politics.