Americans think the United States is in a recession; Economists don’t

  • Most Americans think the United States is in a recession, according to a new Economist and YouGov poll.
  • Besides the strong majority of Republicans, nearly half of Democrats share the same concerns.
  • The latest jobs data shows the country is far from a slowdown, and experts predict strong growth ahead.

It’s not just inflation that’s dampening Americans’ moods. The majority of American adults now think the economy is in the tank.

Fifty-five percent of adults surveyed think the United States is currently experiencing an economic crisis


, according to a new poll by The Economist and YouGov. Only 21% of adults surveyed do not believe the country is in a recession and 24% said they were unsure whether the economy was in a recession or not.

The survey underscores just how much of a gap there is between the economy’s actual trajectory and Americans’ perception of it. A wide range of indicators show that the country is still firmly in recovery mode, and with few signs of a near-term recession. The economy added 390,000 jobs in May, beating forecasts and signaling that the economy is stabilizing while posting strong job growth. Spending by Americans remained at record highs through April, and historically low jobless claims suggest there has been no noticeable uptick in layoffs. The recovery is not as rapid as last year, but it is far from being reversed.

This performance was not enough to allay Americans’ fears of recession. Consumer confidence hovered around decade lows for much of the year, with most citing soaring inflation for their sour mood. Two-thirds of adults surveyed said inflation was a “very big” problem, while 26% rated it as a “fairly big” problem, according to the Economist/YouGov survey.


Source: Economist/YouGov


While fears of a downturn were driven primarily by Republicans disapproving of the Biden administration’s policies, the gloomy outlook has spread to all parties. Forty-three percent of Democrats think the United States is in a recession, outpacing those who don’t share that view and those who aren’t sure. Seventy percent of Republicans and 55% of Independents think the country is in a recession.

But where the average adult is becoming more pessimistic by the day, pundits who look at economic data are slowly coming back to some recession-related concerns.

May’s encouraging jobs report was the latest signal to prompt encouraging forecasts. There “doesn’t really seem to be strong economic evidence” that the recovery is slowing “significantly,” Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider.

Even more bearish voices become positive. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said on May 15 that a recession in the United States is “a very, very high risk factor”, adding that there is only a “narrow path ” for the

Federal Reserve

combat inflation without causing a slowdown. Still, the former chief executive took a rosier tone after the jobs report came out in May, saying in a tweet on Friday that the economy “could still land a soft landing”.

“Relax the negativity on the economic outlook a bit,” Blankfein said. “The economy is starting from a strong place, with more jobs than takers, and adjusting at higher rates.”

The pinch in inflation and the slowing recovery could make Americans feel bad about the economy. But with the latest data beating forecasts and experts taming their worries, the average adult could be in for a surprisingly strong economy in 2022.

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