John R. answered • 01/31/13

John R: Math, Science, and History Teacher

When solving a story problem involving percentages, it is good to learn a few key words:

As you already know, changing a decimal to a percent requires moving the decimal two places (6% = .06)

The word of in a percentage problem represents the multiplication sign (X).

The words what, how many, or how much means the variable (x).

The word is means an equal sign.

Rewriting the words of this problem, we could have the sentence:

The 500 employees that a company is laying off is 6% of what total number of employees.

Looking at the cue words given above we have:

500 ... is (=) 6% (.06) of (X) what (x) ...

or 500 = .06 X x

500 = .06x

Divide each side by .06

500/.06 = x

x = 8333 (Rounded down to nearest whole employee)