Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving

By Matthew Wheeland - April 19, 2012
Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving

Infographic: Five Weird Signs the Economy is Improving

Five Strange Signs The Economy Is Improving

Forget the housing market and consumer confidence index. Instead of sifting through the glut of economic data out there, look around! Unexpected signs of economic recovery are popping up everywhere.

1. Men are buying new underwear

Even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan subscribed to this one. During tough times, men tend to skip out on buying new underwear. When the economy tanked in 2009, sales on boxers and briefs fell 2.5 percent. But today, underwear sales are up.

In 2011, men’s under tops sales were up 4.8% compared to the year prior, to $1.6 billion. Men’s underwear sales were up 5.2% compared to the year prior, to $2.58 billion.

2. A weird favorite of economists is doing better

In 2007, RV manufacturers accurately predicted the U.S. economy was headed for recession when they noted RV shipments had fallen for the first time in six years. RV sale declines also preceded recessions in the early 80s, early 90s, and 2001, which has cemented this $14.5 billion industry’s reputation as an economic bellwether. Despite high gas prices now, RV sales have been better of late, partly because people are traveling shorter distances and with less planning—a trend being reinforced by rising airfare.

RV shipments:

  • 2008: 237,000
  • 2009: 165,000
  • 2010: 242,300
  • 2011: 252,200
  • 2012: 240,000


3. More couples are splitting up

Simply put, divorce is expensive. So when the economy took a turn for the worst, unhappy couples ended up putting up with each other for a little longer. Fed data is slow to come out, but some are already suggesting that more people are seeking divorces now that the economy’s looking up.

  • Matrimonial lawyers who saw a drop in the number of divorce filings (2008 to 2009): 57%
  • Change in divorce rate during economic downturn (2006 to 2009): -7%


Hopeful signs of failed marriages

“Over the last six months [leading into Feb. 2011], the activity in our firm has probably picked up by 20, 25 percent.” — Sandy Ain, a divorce lawyer in Washington, DC.


4. Face lifts are seeing a lift

No one really needs a face lift, so we can count this as an elective cosmetic procedure. And when times are tough, fewer people opt to go under the knife. However, if more re-sculpted noses and wrinkle-free faces are a sign of an improving economy, we’re headed in the right direction.

Face Lift Procedures

  • 2007: 118,414 procedures
  • 2008: 112,933
  • 2009: 103,625
  • 2010: 112,955
  • 2011: 119,026


5. Utilities are losing their best customers

Although analysts predict most utilities will see record profit increases in 2012 due to rate hikes, a record number of U.S. homeowners and businesses installed solar systems in 2011 and were more likely to do so if they had higher-than-average electricity bills. And while solar manufacturing struggled in 2011 due to Solyndra’s failure and an oversupply of solar parts worldwide, it was good news for U.S. consumers who benefited from lowered overall installation costs.

Number of States Installing Over 50 Megawatts of Solar

2009: 2
2010: 5
2011: 8

PV Installations

In 2011 the number of U.S. solar installations grew by 109 percent and the average price of a solar system fell 20 percent, making it a historic year for solar.

What’s ?

makes it convenient and easy to understand and shop for solar energy. offers choices so homeowners can get a free solar estimate however it’s most convenient for them, either online at or by phone at 1-877-444-4002 — without the need for a home visit. Founded in 2008, has helped thousands of homeowners go solar in over 40 U.S. states. is the winner of a TreeHugger “Best of Green” award and sponsored the first-ever solar deals on

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