Before you get upset about twiddling your thumbs for a while at a place like Subway, consider this: that long wait for your sandwich might just mean the economy is picking up.
According to some economists, when times are bad, skilled workers take just about any job, and that includes spreading condiments and flipping burgers. Just like a groundhog supposedly knows that winter will last longer based on its shadow, the world of economics is full of macroeconomic indicators located where science meets intuition (or superstition).
Besides sandwiches, more haircuts and more spending on men’s underwear means things are looking up – Alan Greenspan famously believes that extra boxers and briefs are one of the first places where men cut back during a recession. Then there is the Hemline Indicator, proposed by University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor George Taylor and tested this year by "Business Insider" magazine. (In case you’re wondering, BI reported that hemlines are on the rise, and thus the economy should be, too.) Of course, if you really want to know how the nation is recovering, there’s always Google. How many queries for “unemployment benefits” do you think its search engine has seen since 2008?
Do you have a tried and true way of telling what the economy will do over the next few months? Call in and share!
Justin Wolfers, visiting professor, economics, Princeton University; associate professor, business and public policy, The Wharton School