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6 Financial Signs of the Times That People Are Watching in 2024

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The economy often has us on the edge of our seats, especially as we stay on top of our budgets and future planning.

Empower surveyed 2,204 American adults about what they watch for when monitoring the economy. Thirty percent of survey respondents said they aren’t tracking any financial “signs of the times.” That leaves 70% who are eyeing economic indicators.

Here’s what is grabbing their attention.

1. Shrinkflation

Upset shopper shocked by grocery prices
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Survey respondents who said they are monitoring this financial sign of the times: 24%

Shrinkflation is the name for the practice of making product sizes smaller for the same or higher cost. I’ve certainly seen it, and nearly a quarter of survey participants are eyeing it too. Three-quarters of respondents also indicated that they’re trying their best to save money when shopping.

If you’re in this group, or wondering how to be, try checking a product’s price-per-unit rather than its overall cost.

2. Their ability to retire and when

Confused senior
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Survey respondents who said they are monitoring this financial sign of the times: 22%

Their ability to set great amounts of money aside to support decades of work-free living is a good way to peek at how well Americans are thriving, or struggling.

More than 6 in 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a PYMNTS survey, and only 18% of workers say their pay has kept up with inflation. If the economy is leaving people floundering to keep themselves afloat today, it’s much harder to set themselves up for the future.

3. Strength of the job market

Sad, laid-off worker
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Survey respondents who said they are monitoring this financial sign of the times: 21%

The creation of new jobs indicates a growing economy with an increased demand for labor. U.S. Bank reports that April 2024 saw the creation of 175,000 new jobs, which is “modestly below expectations” and possibly a sign of slower economic growth. The rate of wage growth has also been slowing down.

4. Cryptocurrency

Woman holding bitcoin cryptocurrency
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Survey respondents who said they are monitoring this financial sign of the times: 19%

Potential dangers come with cryptocurrency, but investors can still end up on top.

Cryptocurrency is one way to measure investor confidence. However, it isn’t always a reflection of macroeconomic factors like inflation and interest rates, according to S&P Global. So, it may not be as effective for monitoring the economy as other indicators.

5. Stock market volatility

Business man at computer
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Survey respondents who said they are monitoring this financial sign of the times: 19%

Macroeconomic indicators like the Consumer Price Index (which measures inflation) and employment rates affect the stock market. The most comprehensive indicator, according to Investopedia, is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced in a country and acts as a basic indicator for economic health, indicating growth or the lack of it.

This is a good thing to keep an eye on, as a healthy, growing economy is reflected in stock prices as businesses grow and increase revenue.

6. Dynamic pricing

A senior woman is a passenger in the back seat of a car
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Survey respondents who said they are monitoring this financial sign of the times: 19%

Dynamic pricing is when a company prices its products and services differently based on current market demand, supply changes and other external factors. These aren’t yearly inflationary changes, though. They’re often determined by watching real-time supply-and-demand trends.

This didn’t work out for Wendy’s when it announced its plan to implement dynamic pricing, but other companies still embrace it. The best known example is ride-share apps that increase prices after a large event or during a rainstorm but are less expensive when drivers aren’t as in demand.

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