Economics Lessons | 7 Recession Indicators in America

Shallon Weis |

Recessions are a normal part of the economic cycle, but they can significantly impact individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole. For this reason, it is important to monitor certain indicators that can signal the onset of a recession. In this blog, we will discuss some of the key recession indicators in America.

1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

GDP is the total value of all goods and services produced within a country in a given period. A decline in GDP can indicate a recession, as it may suggest that businesses are producing less and consumers are spending less. A decline in GDP for two consecutive quarters is typically considered a recession.

2. Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is the percentage of people who are actively seeking employment but cannot find it. A rise in unemployment can indicate a recession, as it suggests that businesses are cutting jobs or not hiring new employees. High levels of unemployment can also lead to decreased consumer spending, further exacerbating the recession.

3. Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence is the degree of optimism that consumers feel about the economy and their personal financial situation. A decline in consumer confidence can indicate a recession, as it suggests that consumers are less likely to spend money on non-essential items.

4. Manufacturing Activity

Manufacturing activity is a key component of the economy, as it produces goods that are sold both domestically and internationally. A decline in manufacturing activity can indicate a recession, as it suggests that businesses are producing less and may be cutting jobs.

5. Stock Market Performance

The stock market can be a leading indicator of economic activity, as investors anticipate future earnings and growth potential. A decline in the stock market can indicate a recession, as it suggests that investors are less optimistic about future growth potential.

6. Housing Market

The housing market is closely tied to the overall health of the economy. A decline in the housing market can indicate a recession, as it suggests that consumers are less likely to purchase homes and that construction activity is slowing down.

7. Yield Curve

The yield curve is a graphical representation of the difference between short-term and long-term interest rates. A flat or inverted yield curve can indicate a recession, as it suggests that investors are less optimistic about the future and that interest rates may decline in the future.

It is important to note that these indicators do not always move in tandem, and some may be more reliable than others in predicting a recession. For example, GDP and the unemployment rate are often considered the most reliable indicators of a recession, while the stock market can be more volatile and less predictable.

Recession Impacts on Investments

It's important to work with your financial advisor to protect your investments in any economic environment. Here are a few ways Bradford Financial Center's advisors work with clients to mitigate the impact of economic swings. 

  • Diversify Portfolios. By spreading investments across different asset classes, sectors, and even geographies, you may be able to reduce risks.
  • Focus on Quality. We look for companies with strong balance sheets, stable earnings, and a history of weathering economic downturns. 
  • Keep a Long-term Perspective. Changes in the economy can create knee-jerk reactions and cause people to make hasty decisions based on short-term market fluctuations. We encourage our clients to stick to their investment plans and stay disciplined. 
  • Consider Alternative Investments. Whether it's real estate, commodities, or even private equity, exploring other options can diversify your portfolio. 
  • Keep Cash Reserves. Having a chase reserve can provide flexibility and allow you to take advantage of investment opportunities that become available in a recession or other unexpected economic environment. 

Best Practices for Long-term Investing

Don't go it alone. A financial advisor keeps a close watch on trends, investment opportunities, companies, and these recession indicators to give you the best insights on investing and reaching your goals. Learn more about Bradford Financial Center's advisory team to see how we can help you manage your wealth journey.