Top 10 Bizarre Signs of an Economic Recovery

eating dessert - an economic indicator?

Sure we can look at economists’ predictions, spreadsheets, and all the traditional economic indicators, but what about some other non-traditional ways of telling the economy is poised for better days ahead?

Recently, Yahoo! Finance ran an article entitled 10 Signs the Economy is on the Upswing, which lists some pretty interesting signs that the economy is back, at least for now.

Here’s a look at their list:

1. Men’s Underwear Sales

Yahoo says, ” When it’s tougher to find jobs, men wait longer to replace their underwear, and sales — usually very stable — fell nearly 2.5% in 2009. Now they’ve started to stabilize.”  They mention it may take a few years to see sales start to increase again.

That’s a long time to wait to buy underwear!  My advice?  If you need them, please don’t wait!   Or, let Bob know and maybe he’ll run a Fruit-of-the-Loom Giveaway on the site! :)

2. Dessert Ordering at Restaurants

The National Restaurant Association reports that when times are bad, appetizers, side items, and desserts are an afterthought as customers try to reduce their tabs.

Well, the Board’s consumer confidence index rating is up to 60 (back from a recession low of 25), and they’ve noted many folks are splurging for the sweet treats once again.

3. Depressing Internet Searches

Yahoo says, “The number of Internet searches for “unemployment benefits,” “Social Security,” “unemployment office” and the like spiked in July 2010 and has been trending down since. First-time claims for unemployment insurance have been declining for months now, signaling that mass layoffs are waning and the economy is healing.”

4. Starbucks (Or Your Favorite Coffee House) Sales

“I’ll take a Tall – no make that a Grande – scratch that, gimme a Venti, times are good!”

According to Yahoo, premium coffee is one of the “first little luxuries that consumers find worth shelling out for when they start to feel more comfortable with the direction of the economy. So it’s telling that Starbucks’ net revenues increased 9.5% in 2010, after falling 6% in 2009.”

5. Box Sales

Really?  Box sales?  Well, everything is at some point shipped in a box, right!?  Yahoo says, “The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of bulk shipping costs, hit a 22-year low in December 2008. Though still far from pre-recession levels, it’s on the rise again.”

6. Cabbie Confidence

“Taxi!  Yo, Taxi!” During hard times, more folks in cities walk or take public transportation rather than shelling out the clams for a cab ride.  Recently, business has started looking up for cab drivers.

7. Golfers and Greenbacks

As a golfer myself, I know hitting the links can be expensive.  During recessions, a lot of folks pack up their clubs to save cash.  But, as the economy picks up golfers of all sorts dust off their clubs and book their tee times.  Yahoo says, “There are still fewer rounds being played than before the downturn, but the number of visits to golf courses stopped declining in 2010 and even increased in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.”

8. The Nip, Tuck Indicator

Folks wanting to get a “little work done” held off for a bit during the economic downturn.  But according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the numbers of those who chose to get those tummy tucks and nose jobs rose by more than 13 million.

All I can say is, “Wow!”

9. Casino Revenues

Yahoo says, “Even gamblers get more risk-averse when the economy is in a slump. By 2009, commercial casino revenues had dropped nearly 10% from their 2007 peak. The house’s take increased slightly last year and will head higher this year as consumer spending racks up about a 3% gain this year.”

10. Divorce Filings

“The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says its members suffered a 37% drop in divorce cases in 2008 and a 57% decline in 2009.”

While most of us as Christians would praise God for that, they look at it as a bad sign.  As the economy has turned around, divorce lawyers now have “more business than they can handle — a backlog of pent-up demand. In part, that’s because credit has started to loosen up.”

According to Yahoo, “During the recession, spatting spouses had a tough time arranging the financing to buy out their partner’s stake of businesses and homes, as required by property divisions, so they stuck it out.”

My Two Cents

Well, a brief look at this list shows that the devastating effects of the recession are wearing off – and that may not be a good thing.  The American Dream is making a comeback.

How depressing it is to see gambling, plastic surgery, and divorce increasing!

As a financial planner, I was deeply affected by the economic downturn myself, and although it was a very difficult time, God used it in my life to help me see the bigger picture - like helping others, becoming more generous, and building treasure in heaven.

I pray as times start getting better, I don’t become overly self-sufficient again, but instead trust in the Sovereign Provider and Sustainer of all things.

Photo by Rocketeer

How about you?

  • Do you think times are getting better?
  • What surpsises you most about this list?
  • What have you learned through this economic recession?

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6 Comments
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  1. My husbands job ended in May of last year and we can’t find jobs to even partly replace that lost income. The recession didn’t effect us much when he had that job. Now though we feel it and it has hit us hard. But God is good, ALL THE TIME, and we are adjusting and seeing blessing everywhere. It has made us stronger in Him and with each other as a couple. I hope that some of those who stuck out not getting a divorce learned the value of their partner and that the divorce rate will never go up completely as it was, and I too am saddened to see that gambling, plastic surgery are going up as well.

  2. I am not sure if times are getting better or not. I am sure it somewhat depends on the area you live in. I know that for our family times have been fairly consistent with the exception of needing to and accomplishing a short sale on our home (since we were upside down on the mortgage). In fact, both wage earners in our household did lose their job in late 2009 – but for the most part things have been somewhat even or at least balanced out. We have learned through this economic recession the value patience and waiting for God’s timing in moving forward on various life issues.

  3. Interesting list. What I find surprising is that divorce lawyers are called “Matrimonial Lawyers”. Maybe they should be “de-Matrimonial Lawyers.”

  4. Just because a person doesn’t DO an unfortunate thing (ie, gambling, divorce) doesn’t mean they don’t want to. With this in mind, the recession didn’t change anyone’s heart, in this respect–it simply made them unable to do what they wanted. So it’s really nothing to regret, seeing gambling and divorce come back. We didn’t see a reduction in intention towards these behaviors–they simply didn’t show themselves for a while.

    I agree that the job market has been very difficult lately. I lost my job in late 2008 and it took me WAY longer to replace it than I ever would have expected. When I did replace it, it was with a job that was beneath my experience level. Sometimes you have to take a step back before you can take 2 forward….I realize this offers scant comfort until some kind of job comes along. You just have to keep plugging away–and get SOME kind of income, even if the job isn’t what you’re used to or what you’d prefer.

    Building a blog and other methods of online income are excellent ideas as part of a long-term plan, but they’re highly unlikely to bring money in quickly.

  5. Very interesting list! I live in San Diego and I keep hearing our market got slammed and still is. But I’m a skeptic after seeing a for-hire sign up for 3 months at a KFC. One has to wonder…

  6. With the rising price of petroleum products here and, I guess, elsewhere, I believe costs are going to rise even faster than they are now. I don’t know about you folks, but those of us who are on a fixed income, are struggling to buy the same amount of groceries. It is 5 cents here and 10 cents there, etc. and thus the total bill at end of the shopping trip is now twice what it was 2 years ago. All of our products are delivered either by rail or truck. Thus with gas prices (and diesel even worse) going up 10 cents a gallon every week, at least, this will affect the cost of everything we buy. I am far from optimistic about our supposed economic recovery. There are still too many out of work, there are still homes going into foreclosure and there are still short sales.
    Fortunately, as Christians, we know who our Source is. I thank Him for providing for us in spite of being on a fixed income. That income isn’t the provider, our God is. He takes care of us!

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