Skip to navigationSkip to content
TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE

The challenge of percent change

People are seen through a percentage sign as they stand in front of a shopping window in downtown Cologne
Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay
Taking a percentage.
  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Percent change is arithmetic. Determine how much a measure has changed (or perhaps how much it’s expected to change) and divide it by the original level and that’s percent change. Simple enough.

Where it gets complicated is how we talk about this arithmetic. In economics, we don’t talk about one percent change, we talk about many—and the difference is in which data points we choose to compare. For instance, these are a couple of ways you could interpret the US’s second quarter GDP.

Enrich your perspective. Embolden your work. Become a Quartz member.

Your membership supports a team of global Quartz journalists reporting on the forces shaping our world. We make sense of accelerating change and help you get ahead of it with business news for the next era, not just the next hour. Subscribe to Quartz today.

Membership includes:

こちらは英語版への登録ページです。
Quartz Japanへの登録をご希望の方はこちらから。