Kiplinger offered a very interesting slide show the other day. It offers 10 indications that the economy is improving. Here’s the thing: It’s not 10 obscure economic indicators that you might have trouble identifying in the normal course of things. The list offers 10 every day things to look for. Here is what Kiplinger said were signs of an improving economy:
- Men’s Underwear: According to Kiplinger, boxers and briefs drop in sales with poor employment options. Sales of men’s underwear fell in 2009, but are stabilizing now. Does that mean the jobs situation is stabilizing as well? It could be…
- Ordering Dessert: Apparently, to save money during a recession, people eat less dessert when they go out. Since desserts are expensive, people try to “cut back” by skipping dessert at the end. Kiplinger cites the National Restaurant Association by saying that customers are starting to order dessert again. A yummy indicator that perhaps the economy really is improving.
- Happier Searches Online: Kiplinger says that top searches online during a recession include those for “unemployment office” and “Social Security”. But, now that people are looking for happier things, perhaps that means that fewer people are unemployed. Or maybe their Internet got cut off because they couldn’t pay the bills…
- Return of the Venti Latte: Ah, economic analysis by coffee. Probably thanks to the “Latte Factor”, people cut coffee out first thing when they feel the pinch of a bad economy. (Because, you know, that $4 a day is going to save your finances when you’ve lost a job.) At any rate, Kiplinger reports that Starbucks enjoyed higher earnings in 2010 than in 2009.
- Increased Box Prices: When shipping materials cost more, it is a sign that consumers are buying things because the containers these items are shipped in cost more. Box price inflation is apparently a sign that durable goods orders are on the way up.
- So Much for the Environment: Kiplinger reports that during lean times, people in urban settings are more likely to walk or take public transportation to save money. (And it saves the environment while promoting better health.) Now, though, the economy is improving so we can afford to return to unhealthy behaviors that destroy the planet. Car sales are on the rise, and business has improved for cab drivers.
- Golf!: My grandfather insists that golf is one of the keys to life. Kiplinger points out that it is also a key every day indicator of what is happening with the economy. Apparently we can afford to play more golf now…
- Plastic Surgery: I live in a state known for its high per capita rate of plastic surgery. As you might guess, during an economic downturn plastic surgery numbers plummet. But, now that the economy is picking up, says Kiplinger, plastic surgery is on the rise. Come to think of it, I’ve heard more ads for the “Mommy Makeover” on the radio in recent months.
- It’s Time to Gamble: Kiplinger says that gambling industry takes a hit during poor economic times. Now that casino revenue is up, it could be an indication that economy is improving. Although the personal economy for the gamblers may not be doing so well.
- Heartbreak: One of the big stories during the recession was that the divorce rate was dropping. After all, divorce gets expensive. Kiplinger says that divorce lawyers are getting more calls, and that could mean that more couples feel financially better about calling it quits.
What do you think of Kiplinger’s list? Is there anything else you can think of that would be an “every day” indicator of economic recovery (or economic downturn)?
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.