Economic research can help you determine if it's a good time to launch a new enterprise or product, expand your company or hire more staff, or determine if you need to wait until consumer confidence is up and the economy is stronger. Economic research topics encompass everything from spending to manufacturing, but some of the main economic indicators include unemployment statistics, retail sales, number of jobs added per month or year, and the amount of goods produced in a given time period.
Your economic research can go in a number of directions, depending on your specific needs. Ideas for economics research include:
- Labor statistics
- Consumer spending
- Cost-of-living comparisons
- Gross domestic product
- Average salaries in a city, state or region
- Geographic economic trends
Keep an eye on labor statisticsEmployment and unemployment numbers say a lot about the economy. If unemployment is up and job growth is declining, it may indicate a troubled economy that can't support new enterprises. However, if you're planning to hire more employees, it could also mean more applicants to choose from.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers detailed information on everything from unemployment numbers to productivity to inflation. Or, compare unemployment rates by state at StateMaster.com.
Monitor sales, production and other economic indicatorsProduction and spending are both important clues to the strength of an economy. They can also help you better understand the demographic you're marketing to, because by understanding how and why they spend money, and what they spend it on, you can determine how best to market to them.
At the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, find up-to-date information on the gross domestic product. ThirdWave Research offers an online household spending tool to help you understand the buying habits of your target customers.
Consult economic research organizationsMany economic research organizations cater specifically to the business community, and economic research papers published by these groups can provide insight into which cities offer the most economic advantages, or what industries are experiencing the most growth.
The National Bureau of Economic Research provides economic research to public policymakers, business professionals and the academic community. Software from the Economic Research Institute can help you track issues such as salary trends and cost-of-living comparisons. The Association for University Business and Economic Research conducts research in everything from labor market analysis to regional economic analysis.
Keep an eye on international economic indicatorsWhen looking at economic indicators, monitor the situation not only in your own city, but across the United States and even the world. Often, economic fluctuations in another region eventually make their way around the globe, affecting everyone.
The International Monetary Fund publishes data and guides on economic indicators across the world. The Economist magazine site includes up-to-date information on world markets.
- Don't make any radical changes based on apparent changes in consumer confidence or other economic indicators. These figures and statistics are tools to help better gauge an economy's health, but they don't signal and immediate and total collapse. Monitor these numbers continually, and make slight alterations at first, until the effects of these national and international shifts become clearer.