Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Leading Economic Indicator: Hot Waitress Index

In New York, we have our own economic indicators, often based on the degree to which people are being thwarted by the lack of opportunity. An old standby is the Overeducated Cabbie Index. The Squeegee Man Apparition Index is another good one. There’s also the Speed at Which Contractors Return Calls Index: within 24 hours, you’re in a recession; if they call you without prompting, that’s a depression.

The indicator I prefer is the Hot Waitress Index: The hotter the waitresses, the weaker the economy. In flush times, there is a robust market for hotness. Selling everything from condos to premium vodka is enhanced by proximity to pretty young people (of both sexes) who get paid for providing this service. That leaves more-punishing work, like waiting tables, to those with less striking genetic gifts. But not anymore.

To be actually useful, of course, the Hot Waitress Index must be a leading indicator, and there is good reason to believe that it is. Employment is generally thought to lag behind economic recovery, which is to say that jobless rates remain elevated, and even climb, after a recession has technically ended. But hotness occupies a privileged place in the employment picture. As a commodity that’s fairly cheap, historically effective as a marketing tool, and available on a freelance basis, hotness will likely be back in demand long before your average Michigan autoworker is. Or the rest of us, for that matter.

~New York Magazine

HT: Tyler Cowen


At 8/05/2009 4:47 PM, Blogger marketdoc said...

I agree. This is a Leading, or at least, a Coincident Economic Indicator.

At 8/05/2009 6:45 PM, Blogger Ruthie said...

walter williams uses this example (pretty secretary vs. ugly secretary) in a class i took with him. he did not use it as an indicator for the economy though, just what businesses will hire when different circumstances are given them by the government. if a profit tax is imposed, the prettier and slightly more costly one will be hired, but if there is no profit tax, the uglier, equally competitive (ceteris paribus) but less salary desiring secretary will be hired


Post a Comment

<< Home