Obama job approval: Pollster.com rolling average of major polling firms

Obama favorability: Pollster.com rolling average of major polling firms

Right Direction/Wrong Track: Pollster.com rolling average of major polling firms

Congressional approval rating: Pollster.com rolling average of major polling firms

Small Business Optimism Index: The National Federation of Independent Businesses produces this number once a month, based on polling of small business owners on their plans and views regarding hiring, spending, inventories, the economy's improvement, credit conditions, business expansion, earning trends, and real estate sales. The number is scaled to its value in 1986, a good year for small businesses, when the index level was defined at 100. Since then it has reached 100 again in the late-1990s and mid-2000s. In the past year and a half, it has hovered in the high 80's, generally fluctuating a one two three points monthly.

Consumer Comfort Index: The ABC News polling unit produces this weekly economic indicator based on a four-week rolling average of individual metrics including respondents' ratings of the national economy, the buying climate, and personal finances. In January 2000, it hit a record high of +38; in 2009, it dipped to its worst-ever full-year average of -48. Since the economic crisis, it has hovered around -45, fluctuating a few points each week.

Initial Weekly Jobless Claims: The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases numbers each week for how many unemployment insurance claims have been filed. When President Obama took office, the number was 585,000. Since then, it has fallen into the 400,000's. Fluctuations of less than 50,000 are more or less standard.

Newly Foreclosed Properties: The real estate website RealtyTrac posts these numbers monthly. In February 2009, 274,399 properties were foreclosed; in July 2009, the number was 325,229. Figures in the 300,000's have been standard during the past year and a half.

Unemployment: The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases this number monthly. Having stood at 7.6 percent the month after President Obama took office, the unemployment rate hit 10 percent for the first time since 1983 in November 2009. Since then, it has dropped off slightly.

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