The economy goes through four broad cycles: expansion, peak, contraction, and trough.

During the expansion and peak, there are lots of jobs and most people are optimistic about how things are going.

During the contraction and trough phases, things get tougher.

Eventually, the whole cycle then starts again.

Economic indicators tell us where in the cycle we are, in which direction we are moving, and when we may (or are) entering the next phase.

This is accomplished through three types of economic indicators: leading, lagging, and coincident.

Most analysts and traders don’t focus on the specific number from an economic indicator, but rather look for trends in the data over several releases.

Data on the economic indicator data is released at recurring scheduled times and can be viewed on the Economic Calendar.