In the last recession I worked out three measures to determine the state of the country’s economy, and how I could tell things were picking up.
The first was the number of people on public transport during the rush hour. My logic is that no-one in their right mind would travel into London during the rush hour unless they had to. And the primary reason they have to is because they have a job. The number of empty seats, or conversely the number of people standing, on the train in the morning is a good proxy for the number of people employed and therefore the state of the economy.