How much productivity will be lost during March Madness?

The Connecticut Huskies react after defeating the Butler Bulldogs to win the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in Houston, Texas. New numbers show that we could lose almost four million hours of productivity this year as people skip work to watch the tournament.

This final note today, in which I say the words "March Madness" for the first and last time this season.

The NCAA basketball tournament starts this week, as you might have heard. The aforementioned March Madness. Which means we're soon to be swamped with stories about how much productivity we lose because of people skipping work to watch games, or watching online at the office.

Some terrifyingly large number, it always seems. And yes, in fact, here it is: The manpower company Challenger Gray & Christmas says (PDF) we'll lose almost four million hours of otherwise productive time this year.

How much does that matter in the grand scheme of things? Not a whit, says John Challenger. Not even a blip.

And let March Madness be said no more.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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