October 18th, 2007
11:30 AM ET
11 years ago

Poll: Nearly half think U.S. in recession

The New York Stock Exchange

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly half of Americans feel the U.S. economy is in a recession, marked by a significant decline in economic activity, according to a survey released Thursday.

The poll by the CNN-Opinion Research Corporation found that while 46 percent of Americans hold that belief, 51 percent don't.

Black citizens were more pessimistic than whites, findings show.

Sixty-nine percent of black Americans feel the United States is in a recession, while only 42 percent of white Americans feel the same way.

The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP (Gross Domestic Product), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales."

The GDP measures the economy's output. It represents the total market value of all goods and services produced in the United States during a specified period.

According to the bureau, "a recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity, and ends as the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion. Expansion is the normal state of the economy; most recessions are brief and they have been rare in recent decades."

The recession findings may be having an impact on President Bush's approval rating.

The CNN-ORC poll finds Mr. Bush's approval rating remains steady at 36 percent, but his approval rating among black Americans is just 15 percent.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland says "a majority of whites also disapprove of Bush, although four in 10 have a favorable view of his administration. The president's approval rating has been stuck at 36 percent since late summer."

The sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points for all but the black vs. white breakdowns, which have a sampling error of 5.5 percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Economy • President Bush
soundoff (402 Responses)
  1. Ryan, Provo, UT

    @ Richard Allen in New York

    Maybe you have that problem because you live in New York City. Go almost anywhere else in America and you'll have the opposite problem. Businesses elsewhere are struggling to find qualified employees to support their growth.

    That's the problem with basing your political opinions on the personal experiences of you and your acquaintances rather than objective data.

    October 18, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Me, Fullerton, CA

    I think to get a fair result if we are really in recession or not is to ask at least 1000 prefessional economists rather than just ordinary people who even don't know what the recession is. I am pretty much sure CNN even didn't ask the participants what a recession really is.

    With simple and seen facts of Dow Jones over 14,000 (never happened before in US history), how come people say that we are in recession? It's true that the dollar weakens against Euro and Yen, but not only the number doesn't really count for a recession, but also it's good to boost our export. And it's just a matter of time, the dollar will regain its strength.

    Surely, all the media that are mostly lean to the left never want to tell the truth and the fact. It's always looking for the bad sides of Republicans. Very unfair. I'm very frustrated with all these media which are not supposedly biased. But my faith says the truth will never be destroyed no matter how much they try to destroy it.

    October 18, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Antonio, Barcelona Spain

    I'm sure the economy has had a great GDP. The problem is that GDP is measured in dollars and the dollar is historically weak right now.

    I thank my lucky stars that I'm being paid in euros right now.

    October 18, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Mike G, New York, NY

    I sometimes wonder if reporters (and their bosses) ever read the comments left by their readers. If you do, Mr. Steinhauser, I certainly hope you re-read your article and consider just how silly this piece really was. Even a decent high school teacher would have rejected your piece for its incompleteness, whether intentional or unintentional. I also wonder why CNN has a "Deputy Political Director" writing a piece ostensibly about the economy. I don't like Bush, but I hate misinformation and slanted journalism.

    October 18, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Peter, Hollywood, FL

    Is an economic recession determined by a poll instead of objective data? My undertanding is a recession is defined by very measurable information.

    So since we actually are NOT in a recession, does this mean black people are less intelligent or just more uniformed than white people? Leave it to CNN to beg the question.

    October 18, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Chris, Chantilly VA

    Notice the picture? AMerican flag with a dark shadow of a person walking..

    Liberal biased trash again. Clinton News Network (CNN) polls.

    October 18, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Stan, Arbuckle, CA

    This is for Hank who posted..."The conservative liars and deniers will be changing their tune next year, when the economic numbers from the 4th quarter show a continuing decline as the housing crisis strengthens, corporate earnings continue their slide and inflation becomes too big a problem to continue to ignore."

    Havent you guys been predicting and hoping for this recession for 6 years now?
    When Clinton was president, most reps were in favor of a good economy and a successful military. When a rep is in office, you dems hope the country goes down hill so you can get back in power. How pathetic.

    October 18, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Matthew, Westminster CA

    PLEASE! Must you be so obvious about your political agenda? Or are you a completely inept and unworthy journalist?

    What else could be your point if you only report people's "perceptions" about our economy and not the actual economic indicators after defining a recession?

    Could it be that you examined the indicators and realized the facts would disprove your political agenda?

    HMMMMM. I wonder....

    October 18, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Nicholas, Los Angeles CA

    Ya'll can speak for yourself. Aren't economic matters relative? I can speak of job scarcity in Los Angeles where I live. I can tell you that I'm in debt up to my ears. I can tell you so are most my friends and relatives. We bust our asses and we all live check to check. Look at our dollar! It's even now fluctuating at historical levels with the Canadian dollar. I see it going down even further. Could you imagine if we went to war with Iran. We're already spending billions in Iraq.

    My purchasing power is so diminutive it would take all the men at Pfizer to bring it back up enough so I could participate in any kind of action! Come on now, really!

    October 18, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Zach Hill Muskogee,OK

    Wow, you've got to love CNN. The headline should have been "A majority of Americans feel positive about their economy". O wait, the're waiting for Hillary to get elected

    October 18, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Matt, St. Louis, MO

    Wow. I would bet that less than %25 of Americans can correctly define recession. Stagflation is more accurate description of our current situation.

    October 18, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Noel Los Angeles

    With fifty percent pay cuts, the looting of our pensions and 40,000 laid off employees at my airline, we are in a depression, not a recession, and have been for five years. No new cars, or homes, limited vacations, just trying to survive and feed our famlies.

    October 18, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Howard, Huntington, NY

    Why is everything still presented in a black vs. white format? While it might be interesting to see the difference in views between different groups of people, these aren't even the two largest ethnic groups anymore.

    October 18, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. John

    To quote one of the Republican's very own heroes, Ronald Reagan, "There they go again." Republicans can't help themselves...Iraq isn't their fault, the Katrina debacle wasn't their fault, Senator Craig couldn't even admit that his behavior in the mens room was his fault! Is it any surprise that, now that the American people are expressing doubts about the economy, the GOP is looking for yet another "not me" excuse? Let's see...let's blame it on a liberal media conspiracy! When will the Republicans stop passing the buck!

    October 18, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Antonio, Barcelona Spain

    the missing article on whether or not we are in a recession is on the front page of the international version of CNN but is missing from the version you get in the states.


    the article basically says that in the last week we've had some bad economic indicators and that the economy could get worse since the new housing construction market (a huge source of jobs in the USA) is at a 14 year low. it then says that analysts believe that ben bernanke will lower interest rates to prop up the housing market but this will have the effect of further weakening the already weak dollar.

    so the answer to the recession question is "depends on how you measure it". if you go by USD then economy is growing, if you measure by a more international metric then you see we are losing ground.

    as for oil prices, the price is at a record high but since the price is measured in dollars and the dollar is incredibly weak, for the rest of the world the actual cost of
    oil is about the same as it usually is.

    as an aside you'll find that cnn.com usually puts "smart people news" in the international page and random drivel in the US edition. personally i think foreign news agencies do a better job of covering domestic news in the US than our local agencies.

    October 18, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. willie Gee, Walton County, Georgia

    I wonder how many Americans can actually define in economic tems what a recession actually is? How many of these same people polled could define it? Nice job CNN...


    October 18, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Dr Michael Williams

    Amazing poll considering that tax revenues are at an all time high, unemployment is down, wages are up. Just goes to prove the ignorance of most Americans on financial matters. You want to talk about recession? How about when Jimmy Carter was in office. High unemployment; mortgage rates were over 15%, and sergeants in Army were on food stamps. That was a REAL recession.

    October 18, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. George, San Jose, CA

    It is living proof that 50% of the population is below the median intelligence level. We are near record low unemployment, record low welfare rolls, rising income in all economic levels, increasing retail sales figures, and people think we are in recession.

    Americans appear to be, for the most part, without a clue about their own country. Sad.

    October 18, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Harold, Niagara Falls, NY

    Where was this story in the Spring of 2000 when William the Fornicator and his sidekick Nobel Prize winner ran the economy into recession?

    October 18, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Chip

    Hitler nailed the "Big Lie" didn't he? Congratulations mainstream media, you've proven Hitler right!

    Similarly, when the economy was tanking at the end of Clinton's administration you kept the stupid money flowing into the stock market. Thus proving the partisan nature of your lying.

    October 18, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    There were 83 posts on this blog when I read this article. Out of 83 posts only 11 think that the U.S. economy is in a recession (or doing poorly), thus,

    NEW POLL: ONLY 13% THINKS US IS IN RECESSION. That's fair right, CNN, if you do the math?

    Statistically thinking, G Sullivan, East Long, MA, is right. It does matter to the respondents how the question is worded. If the respondents were posed with a surveyor's question "Do you believe the US is in recession", then it was a loaded question and begs a voluntary response from the respondent (think about all the Bush haters out there!).

    Riaz, Jersey City, NJ:

    Maybe you should move to either Canada or India and experience for sure how "very well" they are doing.

    October 18, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. Kurt, Richmond, Va

    Who cares whether or not Americans "think" there is a depression? And frankly, if they do it is because you guys at CNN have been telling them that lie for the last 5 years!

    There are clear economic indicators as to whether or not any country is in recession. Last I cehcked, it did not matter whther people "felt" that they were in an economic recession, it mattered whther or not the GDP was indeed receding.

    You are really willing to do anything to undermine our nation, so long as your guy isn't in the white house.

    October 18, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Jim, Apache Junction, AZ

    Let's have a poll and see how many people that think we're in a recession also think that CNN is the Most Trusted Name for News.

    October 18, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. Doug, New Jersey

    "I don't get it. All the comments here are complaining about this story and how CNN is a horrible news outlet and CNN is so "liberal", etc. Then why do all these people log on to CNN and read their news stories?? Does Fox News' site link to CNN or something?"

    Great question, you see conservatives view a whole variety of different sources and different political opinions because we want to make sure that what we believe is right. We want to hear all sides and get as much information as we can to make sure that we are right, and if the facts show we are not, then we re-evaluate our beliefs and make sure that they are sound in facts.

    Liberal democrats on the other hand want to censor any outlet saying things that are not liberal, will never even consider a thought, view, or fact that contradicts their ideology, and really are just interested in existing in a liberal democrat echo chamber. The funny part of it all is that liberals then call themselves tolerant and open-minded.

    The right is right for a reason.

    October 18, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    If taxation only existed when a service was truly rendered, some public service was assured to be in existence, or when a consumer purchases a final use product, the poor and the rich would pay an equally taxed percentage. The rich might even pay more as they would be assigned and expected to pay a great many more license and processing fees from the services they receive as land owners and consumed luxuries; fees for services which would then also be taxed. Vices are at a higher tax rate, set appropriately for its destructive potential as a threat to society.

    October 18, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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