There are lots of things in our everyday lives that serve as indicators. A thermometer can indicate whether or not you're running a fever. A flashing dashboard light indicates that there's something wrong with the family car. Even animals exhibit indicators that they are content, as you've probably noticed when your dog wags its tail or your cat purrs.
Think about some of the technology that you use for work and play. Video games, for example, use indicators to give competitors information about their performance. A gauge or simulated speedometer on the screen tells you how fast you are driving your racecar. The indicator changes its levels in response to how fast or slow you drive. Other indicators might show you how much power or energy your player has left or previous scores. What do you do with this information? You use it to determine how well you are playing the game and compare it to other times you've played. In addition, you can compare your performance to that of the other players. You might say that an indicator is a kind of measurement, with or without numbers.
Likewise, there are people who use indicators to figure out what's going on with our economy. Among the indicators they use are measurements about imports and exports, how many people are out of work, how many new houses are being built, and whether prices of things we buy most often are going up or down. One interesting way to gauge the economy in bad times is to look at car sales. If people start buying more cars during bad economic times, it's usually a sign that the bad times are about to end, and the economy is headed for a recovery. That's good news! Some increasing numbers are not good economic news: you wouldn't want to see an increase in the number of people out of work, for example. That number is a percentage that economists call the unemployment rate. Analysts use several kinds of indicators together to understand what's going on with the economy. You might say that economic indicators are like a thermometer that gives us a clue about the country's financial health.