As we regain our investing composure after last year's market meltdown, many of us are looking for signs of a solid recovery while we seek bargains in the market. It's definitely reassuring that the stock market has rebounded -- the S&P 500 is up a whopping 65% or so since its recent low in March. But beyond the market rally, a host of indicators can help us determine how our economy's faring -- including some you might not expect.

The usual metrics …
Our more traditional means of measuring the economy have started looking brighter. In November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a loss of only 11,000 jobs, the smallest drop since the beginning of the recession. (Although the folks at Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) reported a larger loss of 169,000, that was still a smaller loss than October.) Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturing levels rose for the fourth month in a row in November, and the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.8% annual pace in the third quarter, after a yearlong contraction..

On a smaller scale, the latest quarterly report from FedEx (NYSE:FDX) revealed that international air volumes increased each month in the quarter, while U.S. ground deliveries were also rising. Transportation titans like FedEx and United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) are often considered economic bellwethers.

… And the not-so-usual
Beyond those broad, somewhat stodgy metrics, you'll find a host of somewhat more unusual ways to take our economy's temperature. In Phoenix, for example, psychics helped economists get a reading on the depth of the recession. Business remained robust for seers of all stripes, but the composition of that clientele changed. Frequent customers cut back on readings, while new customers emerged -- those in dire financial straits, hoping for good news about the future.

On a far more visual basis, New York magazine suggested a "Hot Waitress" index, explaining that when the economy is in the dumps, restaurants favor more attractive staffers to bring in more customers. 

Men's underwear can also support a variety of economic indicators. Normally, sales of briefs and boxers hold steady. But when the economy is stressed out, men put off buying these garments, thus turning Hanesbrands (NYSE:HBI) and Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-B) Fruit of the Loom unit into economic indicators. Sales of men's undies had slumped, but they're are reportedly on the upswing now at Target (NYSE:TGT) and Sears Holdings' (NASDAQ:SHLD) Sears stores. (Insert your favorite joke about "investing in shorts" here.)

Finally, behavior on game shows can provide a fascinating gauge of economic health. It seems that more contestants on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? are playing it safer and walking away earlier. They're also citing mortgage payments as the beneficiary of their winnings, instead of a new car or travel.

Whether they come from a government bureau or your underwear drawer, signs of an economic rebound are always good to see. Or, if you happen to be psychic, to foresee. 

Berkshire Hathaway and FedEx are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Berkshire Hathaway and Sears Holdings are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Automatic Data Processing and United Parcel Service are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our investing newsletters free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, and yes, that is her final answer. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.