Housing starts, interest rates, inflation rates, stock market jumbles, unemployment rates...these are the traditional barometers of the the state of the U.S. economy. But that's all old school hokum! For a real peak into the state of the U.S. economy take a look at families' plans for their spring break vacations. According to a survey by Access America, a whopping 63% of families with children said they're staying home -- they aren't going anywhere at all over spring break. Another 19% said they aren't sure whether they'll take any vacation at all this year. My family never took spring break vacations, preferring instead to bunch my Dad's two weeks together visiting relatives in July. And years ago (I mean years ago) I didn't take vacations over college spring break, instead heading home to work for a week or so to fund my, uh, books for the stretch run each year. So maybe we're in a recession, maybe we're not; maybe recent moves by the Federal Reserve Board will prevent, shorten, or soften any recession. But whatever the real situation is, and regardless of what the economists tell us, U.S. families are perceiving some extent of economic pressure. And it's easy to tell -- they're staying home for spring break!