Advice to Obama: Save $189B a Year by Teaching Touch-typing

For people spending most their working day on a computer, their typing speed has a direct impact on their productivity. The faster they type the more work gets done.

Let’s explore what kind of productivity gain could be achieved by someone typing at 80 wpm v.s. someone hunting and pecking at 30 wpm.

Say Bill and Jacques work in the same company as support agents. They spend 8 hours a day on the computer answering customer questions.

Bill is a touch typer born and raised in the USA. Bill types at 80 wpm. Jacques, born and raised in Paris, France, never learned to type and his two-finger typing style makes him plateau at 30 wpm.

Jacques, the slow typer, answers 120 customer questions a day, i.e. one questions every 4 minutes. To answer a question, it takes 2 min and 30 sec of research for a solution then Jacques types it for 1 min and 30 sec in the computer.

How many more cases can Bill, the fast typer, answer per day?

  • Bill types 80 wpm v.s. Jacques 30.
  • Bill types 2.6 times faster than Bill: 80 wpm / 30 wpm = 2.6
  • Bill takes 3’05” to answer one case v.s. 4 min for Jacques: 2’30 sec of research (constant) + 35 sec = 3’05” = 185 sec.
  • Bill can process 155 cases per day v.s. 120 for Jacques: (8h*60*60)/(185sec)
  • Bill answer 35 cases more than Jacques every day.

This makes Bill 30% more productive than Jacques.

What does this mean at country level?

The US employs 145 million people (source). Say that 10% of the workforce spend most of their working time on a computer like Jacques and type on average at 30 wpm like Jacques.

How much could businesses save (and reinvest in growth) if all the 30-wpm typers went to 80 wpm?


Cost of 10% people working mostly on their computer assuming the average salary is $45K per year:
14M * $45k/y = $630 Billions per year

With a 30% productivity gain it would only cost $441B ($630B * 70%).

Savings: $189B per year ($630 – $441B).

In summary, learning how to touch type can make you, your organisation, your industry and your country a lot more productive.

Advice to Obama

Make all schools teach touch typing and save the US a whooping $189B per year.

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