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. Michael, Charleston, SC

    Poll: More than half think U.S. is not in recession

    More than half of Americans feel the U.S. economy is growing, according to a survey released Thursday.

    The poll found that 51 percent of Americans hold that belief, while 46 percent don't.

    White citizens were more optimistic than blacks, findings show.


    I know first hand from speaking with a few of my "black"(they aren't the color black we(humans) just refer to them by that label for some reason) friends about politics all the time that they believe we are in recession, I'm "white." They also dislike Bush vehemently.

    Personally I do not believe we are in recession, I also do not care for Bush but I believe he has done well for the economy. Considering all we have been through this past decade the economy is doing very nicely.

    October 18, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Recession? Come to Michigan and you can almost see a full blown depression. And even as the dollar weakens, the work still does not come back to the U.S. Why is that I wonder? And no, I'm not a laid off auto worker. CNN...are you going to censor me yet again?

    October 18, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Neil, WPB, Fl

    If you think we are not in recession, just wait a few more months. If you think we have such a great economy going, you obviously don't realize the serious effects of the sub priime mortgage meltdown.

    Many think that the financial problems at the banks is limited to the sub prime issue. What most don't realize is the same entities (Moodys & S&P)that gave the AAA rating to the sub prime mortgages, did the same thing on corporate bonds issues. You think you pensions are safe? Guess who else bought many of those sub prime secuities products and bonds. It wasn't just banks.

    In the next year 100s of billions of adjustable rate mortgages will reset. The vast majority of those borrowers will not be able to make those higher payments. Most buyers put very little or nothing down. Since properties have dropped in value approx 5% in the past year, these properties will no longer appraise for the outstanding loan amount, forclosure is the only possible outcome.

    We are struggling at this stage of the sub prime process, with the upcoming wave of additional forclosures, we are not going to be talking about recessions, the word will be depression.

    October 18, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. Kim Midland, MI

    What purpose does it serve to rely on an outdated and scholarly description of the economic state of the country? Who cares what the GDP is doing, when people cannot pay their bills.

    As for the numbskull out there who asked "who would submit a resume for a $10 an hour job?" I am just betting that you are pretty young. Check back in when you are 47 and the company you have been working for, successfully, decides they want a younger, cheaper version of YOU.

    If it walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck......

    PS – Right before the stock market crash in '29, people were living high on the hog and having a great time. Think about it.

    October 18, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. James, Phoenix AZ

    Wynter – Loudon, NH

    The folks you see criticizing this article are folks who are tired of the Media spinning bogus stories. Factually – CNN assertion is completely wrong! If the article was about "Consumer Confidence" – fine, but the emphasis on American's THINKING we're in a recession and not reporting the FACT we are not is bogus.

    I'm not a fan of high gas prices... but the FACT is – today's prices when adjusted for inflation are on par with historical prices – The price of $1.35 in 1981 works out to $3.15 in current dollars.

    Housing market – for those of us who aren't attempting to "flip" houses – who really cares about prices?? I have a great low 30-yr fixed rate (5.75) and I'm not planning to sell. THANKS PRESIDENT BUSH – and I'm not even a Wall Street executive!

    Lastly – if you're bent about prices going up but not seeing one dime in income – voting for Hillary & Co is the WRONG choice. After she gets done with her social agenda.. One Dime is all you'll be left with.

    October 18, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Tom - Rochester, NY

    A recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.
    Maybe the question should have been : "Do you know the definition of the word 'Recession'?"

    October 18, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. George, IL

    Something just don't add up. Subprime disasters, wars with no end in sight, nearly $900b borrowed money every year, $9 trillion national debt, US dollar all time low against other major currencies, and the economy is still in good shape?


    October 18, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Randy, Cincinnati Ohio

    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.

    Posted By Dr Michael Williams : October 18, 2007 2:41 pm

    Libs reflect on the Carter and Clinton years fondly as the best years of their lives. Carter was nothing but a bumbling idiot who did not achieve a single thing during his presidency. Clinton drained the military to balance the budget which we are now paying for as we need to fight the War on Terror. In the end, people vote their pocketbooks and with a strong economy, that spells bad news for Hillary, hence the sham story.

    October 18, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. Michael, Houston Texas

    Subsequently asked to define recession, respondents said "Duhhhhhh."

    October 18, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Sam, Portland OR

    to 'TLR' from SmallTown Indiana:

    We have not had "incredible" economic growth over the past 3-4 years, just mediocre growth.
    We also have a massive trade deficit, the government is technically bankrupt We're 73rd in the world for equality, and real wages have risen slower than normal.

    Most economists these days will tell you that there is more to having a healthy economy than just a decent growth rate.

    And P.S.- I don't recall ever being told by the "LEFT WING" media that my life is awful.

    October 18, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. Matt A, Scottsdale, AZ

    The fact is most people consider that the economy is in a recession based on THEIR OWN SITUATION. It's not CNN that causes people to think this, it's when they can't pay their mortgage or milk costs more or gas costs more. As a quick aside, anyone who uses the Dow as a benchmark for the health of the economy apparently thinks that the performance of 30 stocks is a large enough sample size to encompass all economic activity. I'd like to add that foreign investors may not think that we're in a recession but they are certainly getting out of dollars as fast as they can. So, believe what you want, it really doesn't matter matter if it's called a recession or not, I'm far more concerned that the government is digging us into a hole with deficit spending that will be incredibly difficult and expensive to get out of.

    October 18, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Kevin, Tampa, FL

    I am happy to see there are some informed people in this country! The media portrays everything negatively and the majority of people listen to it without even thinking about it. Just like all other mainstream media, throwout whatever negative information, whether its true or not, and see who latches on and runs with it. I would like to see some poll information data to back up these numbers. And how is race even an iussue in this? You wonder why the democrats want to make you feel like you can't survive without their help, all we need is some more great government programs similar to our successful social security program! Keep it up mainstream and we can all suffer together in a socialistic state before you know it!

    October 18, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Sean

    And here is why I only read CNN if it's linked from elsewhere. NOT MENTIONED IS THE FACT THAT WE ARE NOT IN A RECESSION! And haven't been for years. By most measures, economy is strong. Not that I expect "journalism" from CNN, but come on.

    October 18, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. The Wood Wizard L V, NV

    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."
    Here could be very good reasons as some would like to push US over a cliff right into this economic decline.

    The deployment of American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets threatens not only hundreds of millions of legal American working people and their families, but also our already established American way of life. With the pay raises of corporate CEOs at historic personal economic gains and job creation at the lowest level since the stock market crash and the depression of the 1930’s, and corporate America raiders of the lost market are blasting down our borders in search of the cheapest, lowest-price, unskilled, uneducated labor available anywhere on our planet.

    For the first time in history on earth, big business corporations are finding ways of dumping off loyal Americans and their families from already established well-paying employment opportunities and their overwhelming greed is now replacing honest Americans with illegal migrant criminals that are accepting a lesser wage. A recent study revealed that 14 million American jobs are now at risk of being outsourced overseas using low-paid foreign uneducated, lower skilled workers.

    Make no mistake about it, corporate America is not doing all this alone: Big business and Washington are in cahoots, trading our nation's livelihood for short-term gain and Lou Dobbs's bold new book takes dead aim. This is a startling call to arms and should take matters to achieve a much needed invaluable prescription for dealing with all the issues.

    October 18, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. r schier norwalk,ct

    Yes, things have looked rosy for some time...so what...the whole sham is being supported by toothpicks...yeah, a
    weak dollar makes exported goods cheaper, but too bad we produce very little these days to export...I wonder what those unemployment figures would look like if they counted everyone out of work, not only those actively looking...the only reason we have any economy at all at this point, is that there are still a few various reasons for those holding the massive amounts of debt, to support the dollar..once dollar collapses, everything will go down with it...the intrinsic value of the dollar will have to catch up with it sooner or later..."wealth" has been created out of close to nothing but "paper" for a little too long...we should be developing alternative energies, and dusting off our manufacturing capabilities....doing something "real"...we won't be able to afford the rest of the world supplying us with almost every material thing we need, when the dollar ceases to have any worth...the only truly happy ones are those who sold everyone else out and raked up from it...there's either a whole lot of them writing on this board, or I don't know whose side they're on....

    October 18, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. T. Stockwell, Riverton, Utah

    I get confused when we poll people on facts. A recession is a measurable economic condition, is it not? If more people think we are in a recession, does that figure in determining whether we are in a recession or not? Is this article an exposition of American ignorance? Why not find out how many Americans can identify the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a map? Are black people more or less ignorant of that fact? Polls are more straight forward when they reflect opinion, not facts.

    October 18, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Brad, Stockton, CA

    Recession is a matter of perspective and cannot be specifically be defined by most Americans simply because, with all talk about the four phases of the economic cycle aside, it is a relative FEELING RATHER THAN A MOMENT. Any definition that I would personally assign would be as true, relative and valid to me as Mr. Bush's definition would be true, relative and valid to him. Quite frankly, I will place more faith in my definition because I certainly do not believe for a moment that Mr. Bush is at all concerned with my prosperity, or yours.

    October 18, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Marty, Cape Coral, FL

    Is there anything lazier than a poll reported as news? And the headline, are you kidding me? How about, POLL: Majority think US not in Recession. Can you twist the poll any more? I mean 51% DON'T think we're in recession, 46% DO, and you with the 'nearly half' headline. Pathetic, sad, transparent, biased reporting.

    October 18, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Bob Snake, Kirkland, WA

    Well what would you expect from a poll run the by Clinton News Network! It was a fixed poll with rigged questions. If you believe anything from CNN or MSNBC you need to seek therapy, immediately!

    October 18, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Hussey, Houston, Republic of Texas

    If Congress has an approval rating of ~11%, and Bush is at ~36%, that means President Bush is 3 times more popular than Congress. Where's that headline?

    October 18, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. Ken, Houston, TX

    Well...just goes to show ya, all conservatives think about is themselves! Agreed: we are NOT in a recession, as defined by economists. But the truth of the matter is that while the economy has continued to expand, it has not trickled down to the average working-class family. If you were to look at the year-to-year change in REAL median earnings over the past several years, the last time there was GROWTH in real median income was in 2004, and in the period from 2000-2006, the ONLY group that saw an INCREASE in the real average household income was those in the upper 20%. So, while the actual numbers have been going up, the buying power, with the dollar the weakest its been in recent memory, has actually declined. Get a clue folks!

    October 18, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. Kevin Maguire - Boston, MA

    Oh my God!!!!!

    The cost of buying homes is decreasing!! How horrible! Now, families that could not afford owning a home may have a chance. Nooo!!!!

    October 18, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Ray, Miami, Florida

    I bet the same 50% couldn't define "recession." Now that would be an interesting poll. After you ask the person if he or she thinks we are in a recession, ask him or her to define "recession."

    October 18, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. James, Pagosa Springs, CO


    This paper shows that there have been 10 recessions since WW2 with the latest one coming in 2001.

    October 18, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Maria Parker, SF, CA

    Still more insecure CNN/Dem and cheerleading spin.

    October 18, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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