10 economic indicators you haven't thought about

What makes the economy grow?

Economic tell-tales come from a variety of sources -- from the obvious (the Labor Department) to the less so (home decor magazine sales). Here's a look at some of the more sideways signals we've tracked in the past.

Trash: How does our garbage relate to our GDP? Economist Michael McDonough gives us the GDP-to-trash economic indicator.

Google searches: New research links Google search terms and the stock market. In particular, watch for the terms "debt," "portfolio" and "stocks." As searches for those words go up, the Dow Jones goes down and vice versa.

Lipstick: When the economy is down, lipstick is up.

Hemlines: As the theory goes, when women's hemlines go up, so do stocks. Short skirts, good times?

UPS: If Big Brown is making a lot of green, the economy is headed up. At least that's what economists say. Also see: Fedex, Caterpillar and John Deere.

Champagne: Consumption of the celebratory drink may indicate just how bubbly the economy is.

The Macy's Christmas Tree: This one's like the groundhog, if the tree snaps, five more years of GDP winter.

Crime: Law-breaking tends to go up as the economy goes down. This index may need another look though.

Charitable giving: As to be expected, charities can take a hit in a down economy. But something more surprising-- how much you give could indicate your personal wealth. According to a recent study, low-income individuals donate more than high-earners.

Home and living magazines: A strong housing market means more ads for your favorite glossy living magazine. 

Heard of any others? How do you tell if the economy is on its way up or down? Let us know in a comment below.

About the author

Katie Long is a contributing digital producer for Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Tech.
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“Sell in May and Go Away”

If you’ve spent 5 minutes in the finance industry, then you’ve heard this little rhyme. The idea behind this tale is that stock returns are lower during the summer months. It’s been around so long and repeated so often that it’s become either a cliché or a proverb, I can’t tell which.

Similar to hemlines, wider mens ties are a sign of a stronger economy. Thinner is said to mean weaker.

Sales at Goodwill vs donations

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