Hyper-Local Bellwethers of Economic Activity Can be a Boon to Small-Business Forecasting

Dan Weckerly
economic activity
Image via Nataliya Vaitkevick at Pexels.

Monthly government-released data and economic activity are important for small business owners. But they may miss important micro-trends. And they often lack immediacy. More salient to small businesses are those more agile indicators, writes Gene Marks for The Philadelphia Inquirer

Open Table, for example, is a popular app that millions use around the globe to make restaurant reservations. It publishes weekly reservation data by country, state and city. Restaurateurs in family-run eateries can use its statistics to track consumer spending for dining. 

The Transportation Security Administration publishes daily numbers of travelers going through its checkpoints nationwide. These metric show in real time how the travel industry is recovering. The data also indicate meeting and conference attendances. These figures provide usable metrics for those in the travel, hospitality, food-beverage, transportation and entertainment industries. 

Each week, the American Staffing Association publishes an index of temporary workers who have been hired. This provides an “…almost real time measure of weekly trends in staffing industry employment and current economic conditions, as well as of future overall employment trends,” states the organization. 

Meanwhile, St. Louis Fed’s weekly economic index considers changes in consumer behavior, the labor market and production by combining several different indexes. A great deal of actional information in one convenient spot. 

Finally, all these can be insightful for local commercial enterprises wise enough to dig for them and use the figures they provide. 

Read more about the ways to track the economy and economic activity in The Philadelphia Inquirer