As you look for signs of recovery from the economic turmoil of the pandemic, you’ll want to keep your eye on a few economic indicators that are usually seen as bad news. Why? Well, because in the topsy turvy world we live in today, bad news may actually be good news.
Rising unemployment usually means bad news. And, that has been true throughout the pandemic with unprecedented numbers of people being out of work.
However, the “unemployment number” actually reflects the number of people who are looking for work, not the number of people who are out of work. So, as more people get vaccinated and the disease comes under control, economists predict that unemployment numbers will rise again as more people re enter the job market.
Rising unemployment will mean that more workers feel confident about the safety of work and their ability to find a job.
Higher Gas Prices
We all like to save at the pump. And, though most of us aren’t driving too much these days, gas is relatively less expensive in many parts of the United States right now.
However, cheap gas can be a sign of economic distress.
As the economy reopens and transportation increases, gas prices will likely go up. This is bad news for your monthly budget, but signals economic recovery.
The federal government currently has had a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for F.H.A. loans. And, the Center for Disease has issued a temporary halt in residential evictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, 16 states have issued guidance designed to limit foreclosures and and 22 for evictions.
So, as the economy recovers, foreclosures and evictions will rise.
Higher interest rates
In order to keep the economy rolling along, the Federal Reserve has kept borrowing costs historically low for both consumers and corporations.
It may take awhile, but higher interest rates will be a signal the good economic times have arrived.
Traffic, or rather empty streets and record setting times to destinations has been one of the silver linings of the pandemic (assuming you chose to go anywhere). The University of California, Davis reports that traffic in California was reduced by 55%.
However, as people go back to work, school and weekends away, be prepared to sit grumpily in (but also celebrate) the gridlock because it means the economy is back in action!
More car accidents
The data seems to vary by state, but it appears that the reduction in cars on the road has led to fewer accidents (though fatal accidents actually may have increased due to speeding).
The University of California, Davis report found that there has been a 40 to 50% decrease in accidents among drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists in California.
Increased rental costs
Lower-paid workers were among the hardest hit economically during the pandemic. And, because lower paid workers are often renters, that has meant vacant apartments and storefronts, and, thankfully, lower rental costs.
When we see fewer vacancies and higher rents, it will be a sure sign that we are flying high again.
Increased consumer spending and borrowing
It doesn’t always work this way, but consumers often pay down debts during economic slow downs. Indeed, credit card debt has fallen this year — off 4.5% nationally.
When consumers feel confident to borrow for discretionary spending, it is good economic news (even if it might be a bad personal finance decision).
Crowded public transport
Ridership of public transport is so far off that many environmental activists are terrified that this vital aspect of climate change mitigation might never recover.
When buses and trains are crowded again, it will mean that we are back in action.
Hard to get a restaurant reservation
Even if you live in a state that allows indoor dining, your local watering hole is probably a lot less crowded. Rejoice when it gets hard to grab a table.
Return of seasonal flu and common colds
I never thought I would be happy to get a cold, but that just might be how we all feel later this year (or next). Because it will probably mean that we are back to living more normal lives.
The journal Nature reports that after the pandemic started, positive tests for the flu virus plummeted by 98% in the United States, whereas the number of samples submitted for testing dropped by only 61%.
So, Let’s Start Wishing for Some Bad News?
I guess every cloud has a silver lining.