Katie Kieffer

If you’re tracking the economy, start tracking women’s lips. If they’re red, plump and glossy, then you know that the economy is heading into a recession.

With the possible exception of Kim Kardashian, who has millions to blow on 72-day marriages, American women are putting off big-ticket investments like weddings, childbirth or homeownership because of the economy. Instead, they’re buying lipstick. Lots and lots of lipstick.

During the 2001 recession, Estée Lauder chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder conceived the “lipstick index” to describe the spike in cosmetic sales he witnessed during hard economic times. Today, Lipstick and nail polish sales are soaring through the roof even as women struggle to keep roofs over their heads. As of October of 2011, lipstick sales were up 14 percent annually and nail polish sales were up 54 percent.

The reason women are opting for lipstick over houses is not because women don’t know how to budget. It’s because socialist and unconstitutional public policies have ravaged our free market economy to the point where the only self-help item many American women can immediately afford is a tube of lipstick or a jar of nail polish.

The Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate jumped to 8.2 percent in May—its first increase in nearly a year. For the third month in a row, U.S. businesses reported anemic job growth. May netted 69,000 new jobs (125,000 new jobs a month barely preserves status-quo). We also learned that part-time work, not full-time, is the secret behind many of the so-called “gains” in the latest jobs report. So, now economists are predicting yet another recession.

Unless you’re literally a Barbie doll, buying a home is a long shot for many women. Movoto Real Estate recently estimated that the price of a tiny 21 sq. foot home (the size of Barbie’s Malibu Dream House) on the real Malibu Beach would be $18,000. Unfortunately, real women cannot miniaturize themselves when the economy goes bad, so they are stuck with six-figure-plus home prices whether they have a job or not.

Besides preventing women (and men) from buying homes, the poor economy and job market is preventing young people from getting married and starting families. “Recessions have remained the one consistent predictor of American family size, with dips in birth and marriage rates immediately following the 1981-82, 1990-91 and 2001 recessions as well as the current downturn,” reports TIME Magazine.

Katie Kieffer

Katie Kieffer is the author of a new book published by Random House, LET ME BE CLEAR: Barack Obama’s War on Millennials and One Woman’s Case for Hope.” She writes a weekly column for Townhall.com. She also runs KatieKieffer.com.