Leading indicators
A compendium of revealing stats
byOliver Ryan, FORTUNE Magazine writer-reporter

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Netizens 694 million

Total number of global Internet users age 15 and over. The U.S. leads all countries with 152 million users, followed by China with 75 million. Israelis spend the most time online, an average of 58 hours per month. That's twice as much as the average American, who does not even make the top 15 list.

Hammering away 7.51 million

Number of people employed in the U.S. construction industry in April, the 15th consecutive record-setting month for the sector. The industry has seen 3.7% job growth during the past 12 months, led by 5.5% payroll growth for commercial building contractors.

On hold - and loving it 75%

Share of callers placed on hold, according to a recent study, who estimated that their wait time was shorter when they liked the music. Informing them of their place in the queue or the expected wait time did little to improve their degree of customer satisfaction.

Back in the black 42

Number of U.S. states that expect to run budget surpluses in fiscal 2006. These states, in total, expect to be $28.9 billion in the black. At the beginning of the decade, all states combined were $265 billion in the red.

Heavy metal 20 million

Eventual size in metric tons of the strategic copper reserve recently established by the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources. The Chinese agency has said it intends to create ten such metal reserves, including one that will amass 200 million tons of bauxite, which is used to make aluminum.

Sources: Comscore Networks, Associated General Contractors of America, Robinson College of Business, National Conference of State Legislatures , Associated Press. Top of page