There are various economic activities that one can look at to try to identify where the economy is in the business cycle. An individual can also use these economic indicators as a way to try and predict the direction of the economy in the future. The 3 types of economic indicators are:

  • Leading indicators
  • Coincident indicators
  • Lagging indicators

Leading Indicators

Leading indicators are business conditions that change prior to a change in the overall economy. These indicators can be used as a gauge for the future direction of the economy. Leading indicators include:

  • Building permits
  • Stock market prices
  • Money supply (M2)
  • New orders for consumer goods
  • Average weekly initial claims in unemployment
  • Changes in raw material prices
  • Changes in consumer or business borrowing
  • Average work week for manufacturing
  • Changes in inventories of durable goods

Coincident Indicators

Changes in the economy cause an immediate change in the activity level of coincident indicators. As the business cycle changes, the level of activity in coincident indicators can confirm where the economy is. Coincident indicators include:

  • GDP
  • Industrial production
  • Personal income
  • Employment
  • Average number of hours worked
  • Manufacturing and trade sales
  • Non agricultural employment

Lagging Indicators

Lagging indicators will only change after the state of the economy has changed direction. Lagging indicators can be used to confirm the new direction of the economy. Lagging indicators include:

  • Average Duration of Unemployment
  • Corporate profits
  • Labor costs
  • Consumer debt levels
  • Commercial and industrial loans
  • Business loans


Economic Policy And The Federal Reserve

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