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. George, Clifton, NJ

    It would have been telling to note that while Bush's approval rating stands at 36%, Congress's approval rating is much lower.

    October 18, 2007 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Pat Houston, Tx

    I don't care what people think about the economy. The bottom line is the economy can me measured by GDP, real income, employment, etc. The actual poll question should be: How many people are duped into thinking the economy is bad?

    October 18, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. Keith Nashville, TN

    I guess the liberal media machine is working. People are misinformed constantly about the economy, politics, the war, etc.. The liberal media is only committed to an agenda. Facts and truth matter none.

    October 18, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Mike Colvin, Lawrenceburg, IN

    Isn't it irresponsible for a news organization to report such a poll and, at the same time, fail to report whether the opinions cited have any basis in fact? The article itself gives objective criteria from experts about what a recession is, so plug in the numbers and tell your readers whether the poll respondents are out to lunch or not.

    October 18, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. T Beatty, Chandler, AZ

    So you provide the definition of recession but you don't say we're not in one?

    Part of the problem with the perception is that news organization print articles like this one that give the perception of a poor, shrinking economy even though it is expanding. The poll highlights ignorance and CNN doesn't seem to want to cure it.

    October 18, 2007 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    "Expansion is the normal state of the economy; most recessions are brief and they have been rare in recent decades."

    Two things, one, you did not state the fact that WE ARE NOT IN A RECESSION, but in the expansion phase (normal) you cleverly put the definition out there but don't make the POINT of what state we are in.

    Two, you easily could have noted that we did RECENTLY have a recession at the end of the CLINTON years (dotcom boom went bust) and it was the shortest ever because the idiot Bush enacted the tax cuts for people that actually pay taxes and that is also what got us through the possibility of our economy being DEVASTATED after 9-11.

    One of the few bright things Bush did were the tax cuts as it saved our tails.

    October 18, 2007 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  7. James B, Little Elm, TX

    It would be nice if this article had stated whether or not we actually are in a recession, rather than just the public's opinion on the subject, since being in a recession is something that we can quantitatively determine without relying on public opinion. Google for "US recession 2007" and you see any number of articles predicting that we will have a recession in the near future, but no reputable source is saying that we are currently in a recession. Of course if this article noted that we aren't currently in a recession, it would make people wonder why half the public believes something that is provably false...

    October 18, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. Lance, San Antnonio, Texas

    Once again a poll used to move an Editorial to the front page.

    And this prove what... that nearly half of Americans are ignorant of the current economic prosperity?

    This poll reflects the efforts of the drive by media; including CNN, attempt to convince the viewers that our economy is bad simply because there is a republican in the white house.

    I guess congratulations for a good job lying to America CNN!

    October 18, 2007 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  9. wwt, Chicago IL

    How can CNN run a recession story when the economy has been growing every year except for one for the last 15 years?

    October 18, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. T. Anderson

    This country is not in a recession, however, the media would like you to think so. That is why so many people think we are in a recession (technical definition is two quarters of negative growth).

    October 18, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Tommy, Detroint, MI

    Many Americans believe we are in a recession because of the nonstop negative spin by the media. Virtually all of the key economic indicators have been favorable for years now, and the media has successfully portrayed the economy as being in turmoil. The media is always looking for trouble around the corner. The funny thing is the press did not have this approach near the end of the Clinton Administration, when there really was a crash coming.

    October 18, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. K Reed Houston Tx

    This is stupid. A recession by definition is 2 successive quarters of neative growth in the GDP. The Fact that almost 50% of the population thinks we are in recession certainly explains why most households are in debt.

    October 18, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. Salil, Austin TX

    Its amazing how people insist the economy is in a recession, despite the facts on the ground. Unemployment is the same as the best years under Clinton, more people own homes, there's more jobs – the DJIA went from 0 to 9000 in the half-century leading up to now, and since 2001 has grown from 9000-14,000. 9000 in fifty years vs 5000 in 7 years. Income in Real Dollars is trending upwards, and is higher than it was during Clinton's heyday. Gosh, our economy is suffering SO badly.

    October 18, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Stewart , Decatur, AL

    The economy is clearly not in recession. I would expect that those who think it is are not well informed. Their news sources are limited and they do not have inquing minds. I suspect many who think the economy is in recession are unemployed or working low wage jobs.

    October 18, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. Clint, Dallas, TX

    Leave it to CNN to post just the results of the poll, and not bother to mention that we aren't, in fact, in a recession, and in fact haven't been in one for almost six years. Way to educate when you have the chance, Mr. Steinhauser. Good lord.

    October 18, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. B SPK, WA

    Great story but... Did you forget one major piece of information vital to the story? The actual FACT that we are not in a recession. Maybe you should start reporting the actual facts?

    October 18, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Steven, incomplete, perplexed

    This story is incomplete because it is lacking the current economic data.
    Why would a story on the perception of the economy not include the actual data on the economy?
    Why did these people think we are in a recession?
    Is CNN saying that we are in a recession, based on the beliefs of the people? Or are they saying that these people are incorrect in their perceptions of the economy?

    October 18, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Bob

    Main stream media portrays the economy as being bad because if they didnt, Hillary or Obama wont win the election. How else can you explain that nearly half the people in the US think we're in a recession when we're not even CLOSE?

    October 18, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. Bob, Central Illinois

    Funny how you neglect to mention that we are, in fact, *not* in a recession and have not been in a recession for many years. The economy is doing just fine. The reason so many people think things are going badly is because the news media relentlessly spins, downplays, or buries any good economic news, while trumpeting loudly any negative economic news, simply because a Republican president is in office. The bias and disinformation is so transparent that it's disgraceful.

    October 18, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. Roger Madison ME

    OK, you reported half the story, what about the other half? You say people THINK we are in a depression, then give the definition of a depression.

    So by the economist's definition are we in a depression? Or is it just a perception?

    October 18, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. Bill O'Rourke Freeland, Michigan

    "The recession numbers may be havcing an impact on Bush's approval rating"????????

    What 'recession numbers'? Show me the numbers that support a conclusion that we're in a recession. Don't show me poll numbers from a skewed survey in order to taint the fiscal policy of this administration

    October 18, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. Mike Rees Delaware, Ohio

    Ok..CNN...here's your chance to be objective. Is the economy in a recession or not? OBviously..it is not and has not been for years. This was an opportunity to report a real story. It would help to point out how misinformed most Americans are. By leaving the next most important part out...you lose credibility. WHy are Americans so mis-informed? Look no further than this article.

    October 18, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. straighttalker

    The ongoing expansion, which began in late 2001 after Bush's tax cuts, has survived the September 11 terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, ongoing war, natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and an external shock that caused energy commodity prices to double. Yet the economy enters its fifth year of expansion this November.

    Industrial production, which reached a trough in November 2001, the month the recession ended, has expanded in 30 subsequent months. Nonfarm employment has expanded by 4.2 million jobs since hitting its trough in May 2003, recording job growth in 27 of the next 28 months. Of these gains, 3.9 million have occurred in private industry sectors.

    Expanding production and employment are synonymous with economic expansion, not evidence that another recession is looming.

    October 18, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Rod M, Michigan

    This poll shows a majority of Americans do not have a basic understanding of economics nor do they follow weekly and monthly economic data that is published.

    October 18, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. P.J. Ebelhar, Owensboro KY

    Would it not occur to the author of this report to mention that the people who believe we are in a Recession are in fact WRONG! The economy is continuing the long run up of expansion that dates back to at least 2002. It just shows that most people are ignorant of economic fact, and that CNN is a willing participant of spreading this ignorance.

    October 18, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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