This is an average of twelve economic measures that historically predict what the economy is going to do. The individual metrics are some positive, some negative.
Plus, check out the flash animation of the figure at USAToday.com. You need to see how the little bars fan into position, and then bounce to their correct value. It is -- well -- flashy.
Why does this matter? Lots of reasons, including that I own a house in metro Detroit.
This is from the private economic consultatnts IHS Global Insight, who presumably was paid by USA Today for the forecast. The more widely accepted leading indicator is from the non-profit Conference Board. Their Aug 20 indexes are at right.