It's easy to forget that most economic data is backwards looking. Almost by definition, data tells the story of the past, yet that doesn't stop us from trying to read the tea leaves, looking for a guide to the future hidden within the charts and graphs.
Take for example the fact that employment in San Francisco has dropped now for three straight months. Some of this is seasonal, sure, but it jives with recent stories of layoffs, hiring freezes and the general cooling of our once red hot tech economy. But what do the data tell us about the future?
Data like this reflect the seeds of change planted months ago. Weakening confidence begets hiring slowdowns and layoffs which eventually show up in employment data. The media latches on and people finally see what has been happening for months. Which impacts their feelings about the economy and ultimately their own decisions. It's a feedback loop, like most systems.
So keep an eye on the data, but know that it's usually a window into the past, not the future.