The pandemic era presents a unique set of circumstances. To judge how far we are from a full recovery, the traditional economic indicators are of limited use.
The stock market is, of course, useless. Unemployment or household income data can be distorted by government stimulus payments. Maybe GDP is useful.
What other - perhaps lesser known - indicators would you recommend to gauge where we are economically?
Oof so much to answer and so little time. First you really need to define your terms. How do you define “recovery” and what you mean by “how far (ie temporally or quantitatively) ?” If you find that overwhelming, then you’re in good company with most economists. Even defining where we are in a recovery is difficult because real GDP lags, while Non Farm Payrolls is coincident (though it’s also laggy), and retail sales is leading. Hedge funds are now buying high frequency mobile and credit card data to get a daily update.
If you put a gun to my head and made me pick one, I’ll say Non Farm Payrolls,(because unemployment lags) but this only tells you how many jobs were created/lost last month. It no longer has the paycheck protection programs distortion because that expired. And this doesn’t say anything about the health of the recovery and therefore whether those people will be kept on the payroll in a few months. It’s a dismal science.
My WAG (Not an economist): business failure rate.