Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving

posted by Shannon on April 19th, 2012

Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving

Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving

Five Strange Signs The Economy Is Improving

Forget the housing market and consumer confidence index. Instead of sifting through the glut of economic data out there, look around! Unexpected signs of economic recovery are popping up everywhere.

1. Men are buying new underwear

Even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan subscribed to this one. During tough times, men tend to skip out on buying new underwear. When the economy tanked in 2009, sales on boxers and briefs fell 2.5 percent. But today, underwear sales are up.

In 2011, men’s under tops sales were up 4.8% compared to the year prior, to $1.6 billion. Men’s underwear sales were up 5.2% compared to the year prior, to $2.58 billion.

2. A weird favorite of economists is doing better

In 2007, RV manufacturers accurately predicted the U.S. economy was headed for recession when they noted RV shipments had fallen for the first time in six years. RV sale declines also preceded recessions in the early 80s, early 90s, and 2001, which has cemented this $14.5 billion industry’s reputation as an economic bellwether. Despite high gas prices now, RV sales have been better of late, partly because people are traveling shorter distances and with less planning—a trend being reinforced by rising airfare.

RV shipments:

  • 2008: 237,000
  • 2009: 165,000
  • 2010: 242,300
  • 2011: 252,200
  • 2012: 240,000
  • 3. More couples are splitting up

    Simply put, divorce is expensive. So when the economy took a turn for the worst, unhappy couples ended up putting up with each other for a little longer. Fed data is slow to come out, but some are already suggesting that more people are seeking divorces now that the economy’s looking up.

    • Matrimonial lawyers who saw a drop in the number of divorce filings (2008 to 2009): 57%
    • Change in divorce rate during economic downturn (2006 to 2009): -7%

    Hopeful signs of failed marriages

    “Over the last six months [leading into Feb. 2011], the activity in our firm has probably picked up by 20, 25 percent.” — Sandy Ain, a divorce lawyer in Washington, DC.

    4. Face lifts are seeing a lift

    No one really needs a face lift, so we can count this as an elective cosmetic procedure. And when times are tough, fewer people opt to go under the knife. However, if more re-sculpted noses and wrinkle-free faces are a sign of an improving economy, we’re headed in the right direction.

    Face Lift Procedures

    • 2007: 118,414 procedures
    • 2008: 112,933
    • 2009: 103,625
    • 2010: 112,955
    • 2011: 119,026

    5. Utilities are losing their best customers

    Although analysts predict most utilities will see record profit increases in 2012 due to rate hikes, a record number of U.S. homeowners and businesses installed solar systems in 2011 and were more likely to do so if they had higher-than-average electricity bills. And while solar manufacturing struggled in 2011 due to Solyndra’s failure and an oversupply of solar parts worldwide, it was good news for U.S. consumers who benefited from lowered overall installation costs.

    Number of States Installing Over 50 Megawatts of Solar

    2009: 2
    2010: 5
    2011: 8

    PV Installations

    In 2011 the number of U.S. solar installations grew by 109 percent and the average price of a solar system fell 20 percent, making it a historic year for solar.

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    By Dave Llorens

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    6 Responses to “Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving”

    1. Marisa Lee says:

      Haha, awesome.

    2. Ray Boarman says:

      This is stupid none of this means anything.

    3. Mike McDaniel says:

      Your face is stupid.

    4. None of the fundamentals of the economic problems have been addressed. None. So, minor signs of recovery, such as a bounce in RV sales or underwear sales, are meaningless. The whole thing is teetering on the brink of the worst economic crash this world has ever seen, and when it does, there are going to be a lot of people out there needing clean underwear.

    5. Emmaline Marshall says:

      Good morning,

      While I really found your post most informative, it would really be helpful if you you could make the date it was published a little more obvious. In this lightning fast world we live in, it’s really important. Thanks

      May you never see another rainy day.

    6. Best one…utility companies are losing their best customer! Good to know that the installation of solar is a good sign the economy is coming back.

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