The internet is burning up today with new numbers out of Washington. No, it's not the the bank stress test results or new stimulus spending. It's the Social Security Administration's annual report of America's most popular baby names.
One major highlight of the report (and the item most media outlets jumped on is that: "Barack moved up a record 10,126 places to No. 2,409." Actually, the SSA press release said that it was "probably" a record jump on the list, but we shouldn't let that stand in the way. This is big news -- our president has inspired a Barack Baby Boom!
The problem is that no reporters seem to have inquired just what the "Barack" jump from #12,535 in 2007 to #2,409 in 2008 actually represents in terms of raw numbers. Well, I did. And according to an email I just received from the SSA press office, the number of boys who were named Barack in 2008 was 52! That represents an increase from the 5 Baracks named in 2007.
[As a side note, these figures are approximate. The press rep said she was "uncertain of the precise number." Huh? It's not like I asked them to track down the TARP funds!]
At any rate, about 50 boys were named "Barack" in 2008 --- out of more than 2.1 million boy names registered with the Social Security last year. That means "Barack" represents a grand total of 0.0024% of all boy names in 2008, up from 0.00023% the year before. [And yes, the decimal points are in the right place.]
To put this in perspective, the most popular name boy name last year was Jacob, accounting for 22,272 registrations with Social Security. The 50th most popular boy name was Aaron at 8,423, while Eli popped in at #100 with 4,445 registrations. In fact, to make it onto the SSA website's list of the top 1,000 names, you only needed to have 191 co-namees (I'm talking about you, Yurem!).
All of which leaves me wondering why the SSA never reported on the Boutros Boutros-Gali boomlet of the early 90s.
This is #127 signing off.