Watch the unemployment rate
The unemployment rate was 10% in October 2009. In 2021 it is just above 5%. Economists have long held that 5.5% is virtually zero as some number of people simply never find work — it’s hard to get lower than that. What’s the problem? Eventually, employers can’t fill vacancies for skilled labor, so industries stagnate. If unemployment rises steadily for months — even as jobs go empty for lack of talent — a recession can follow.