Economic indicators are figures used by forecasters to predict changes in market economies. There are 11 leading economic indicators used to track developments in areas which together predict changes in the overall level of the economy. These indicators are:
- Index of new private housing units;
- Changes in unfulfilled orders by manufacturers of durable goods;
- Changes in sensitive materials prices;
- Index of S&P 500 common stock prices;
- Money supply;
- Index of consumer expectations;
- The length of the average work week of production workers in manufacturing settings;
- The average weekly state unemployment insurance claims;
- New orders for consumer goods and materials based on 1982 dollars;
- Vendor performance or percentage of companies receiving slower deliveries from suppliers;
- Contracts and orders for equipment.
Producer Price Index
The Producer Price Index (PPI) measures prices at the wholesale level only. The PPI is viewed as a leading indicator of inflation.
Consumer Price Index
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is also a leading economic indicator. Although changes are reported from month to month, the more meaningful analysis is found in charting the percent change from the same month in the prior year.
Other economic indicators include the index of industrial materials prices, the Dow Jones Commodity Spot Price Index, the Futures Price Index, the Employment Cost Index, and the Hourly Compensation Index or the Unit Labor Cost Index as a measure of the change in cost of the labor factor of production. Long-term interest rates are also used to measure changes in the cost of the capital factor of production.
The Conference Board
Known for its well managed research program, the Conference Board generates the monthly "Consumer Confidence Survey" designated by the Department of Commerce as a leading economic indicator and predictor of recessions and recovery. Other services offered consist of timely publications, data collection services for marketing executives, demographic information services, periodic consumer surveys, and over 100 annual conferences and seminars.
For more information, contact The Conference Board, 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022, (800) 872-6273.