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. MH, Laurel MD

    There is a reason the CPI calculations were changed, they were wrong. How could you possibly think CPI is anywhere near 8%?

    And you think GDP has been declining for 20 years? Get real.

    October 18, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Anthony Fort Lee NJ

    Nearly half the US population is woefully ignorant. Recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GNP growth. We haven't even had one quarter of negative growth yet...yet.

    October 18, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Miranda White, San Antonio, TX

    Guys, why are we so defensive about the poll results? Why is it about liberal or not?

    OK, say we are not in recession, we would love to say that we are not going to be ever in recession, BUT ….. our trade deficit is paramount and getting worse. How much money do we owe from China, for instance, do you think? Geeeee … let's look at the government's official figures:

    For 2007 (as of August), US EXPORTS to China is ONLY US$41,230.200,000 (US$41.2 billion), IMPORTS from China is 205,062.300,000 (US$205 billion), trade deficit with China is US 163,832,000,000 (US$163.8 billion). Just imagine by the end of the year …. how can we balance the trade? Close down Walmart and other importing giant businesses?

    BTW … that's only China, not yet India etc.

    Let's educate ourselves by learning the facts from the official source:

    October 18, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Bruno

    While I think times are about to get worse due to various bubbles/issues in the economy (national debt, real estate, consumer debt, trade deficit, stock market overvalued, declining dollar, etc) I have a hard time saying we're IN a recession. My business has had no problem finding new customers lately (for a service that people can do w/o if times are tough), my wife's company is growing, our incomes are up, etc.

    I'm curious what benefit is gained by polling the general public on issues they have little understanding of? I'd bet 90% of those polled can't define what macroeconomics is. They're watching dancing with the stars and American Idol, not perusing the economic news.

    October 18, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Land Man GR, Michigan

    Recently the new Democrate glory boy Alan Greenspan, on the heals of his new best selling book that includes harsh words toward the Bush administration, was asked if the US is in or will be facing a recession. His answer, NO!!!! Wake up America!

    October 18, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Cliff Wentworth, Memphis, TN

    It seems as if the "dumbing down" of citizens of the US is nearing completion. Remember, that according to Liberal/Dems and so-called news outlets. Conveniently omitted from those news reports was the fact that the Electoral College is the process, not mob rule. The teaching of Civics and U.S. History has been corrupted at the public indoctrination aka public school level that it is no wonder that 46% answer this way.
    Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. It would be interesting to see the news media publish demographics of the actual consumers/purchasers of their various products. I'll bet that it would show that there are still many of us that are paying attention and are much smarter than the idiots you wish we all would become so that complete Socialism could finally come to fruition.

    October 18, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    You, the media including CNN, created this extremely false view that we are in recession for your own political purposes.

    October 18, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. jg /central illinois

    The responses to this article seem a little strident, don't they? I agree that the classic definition of a recession does not apply and the article certainly should have made this point. At the same time isn't it disingenuous to ignore the point that the perception of recession is there. Could the growing gap between the wealthiest and the middle class and poor be a possible reason for this at least statistically incorrect perception?

    October 18, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Tom, Texas, USA

    Exhibit No. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 demonstrating that members of the Democrat party are blithering idiots. The booming, booming, booming Bush economic boom continues to boom and boom and boom, and the Democrat party and its useful idiots of the Washington press corps "think" the booming Bush economic boom is in "recession".

    October 18, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Colin, Milwaukee WI

    The 46% of people who believe we are in a recession probably constitutes the majority of the population that have over $20k in credit card debt and also probably constitute the majority of people who thought a subprime mortgage was a pretty good idea.

    October 18, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. foutsc

    Congratulations CNN! Your 6 year anti-Bush propaganda campaign is working! Your bad-mouthing the economy is bearing fruit. People form opinions based on the information given them. The press has done a horrible job reporting the news and almost always ends up reinforcing economic ignorance. Garbage in = Garbage out.

    October 18, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Anne, San Diego, CA

    People think we are in a recession because more and more people are being financially squeezed personally and, like most ignorant people, feel that the world revolves around them. Therefore, if their economics are in decline, the whole country's must be.

    There are 2 reasons for this, neither of which are the fault of the news media:

    1) they don't understand economics because they have never learned it. Before you scream that they should know, is economics taught in the school system where you live? Get involved and fix your own school district before you blame someone else. If the news media started teaching economics, people would be screaming that they were overstepping their bounds as new reporters and trying to make news.

    2) As a society, we have become impatient and greedy (yes, sorry, that is the word). We want it all and we want it now, which has led to people foolishly running up large debts that they can't pay in an attempt to have what they believe everyone else has, which they should thus also be entitled to. The notions of saving for something and only buying what you truly want and/or need are very rare now. For this you can partially blame the media, but not the news media - try television, movies, advertising, etc.

    October 18, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Timmer

    How many of you who wrote in saying we're not in a recession have lost your job to out-sourcing in the past year? I'll bet there aren't very many!I and several others I know have and none of us are making close to what we were before. If you were on the receiving end of a job cut, you'd be a little pessimistic about the economy, too. If you read the poll information, nearly half of Americans "feel" the US economy is in a recession. Do you normally attack how people feel about something. How shameful! Oh, that's right...blame the vast left-wing media!

    October 18, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Ken, Newport News, VA

    To Richard Allen of New York City:

    Your anecdotal examples aside, the objective fact is that we are not in a recession and have not been in one since the one that President Bush inherited from Bill Clinton in 2001 (which President Bush cured with his tax relief initiatives).

    A recession is defeined as two or more quarters of negative economic growth. We have had positive economic growth in almost every quarter of Bush's presidency

    Furthermore, unemployment continues to be at all-time lows, currently around 5%.

    As much as it may make you and CNN feel good to engage in unsubstantiated alarmism by promoting the idea that we are in a recession, you and CNN are factually and verifiably wrong.

    October 18, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. greg miller, westminster, maryland

    I believe that based on the other comments, the general public thinks that CNN sucks as a news reporting agency.

    October 18, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. harry, miami fl

    we are in a recession. i dont think it, i feel it, in my b-ness, in my everyday life, and what i hear from friends and relatives. my b-ness has plumetted 60%, my credit cards are maxed out and i cant pay my rent.... yada yada yada....

    October 18, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Jerry Zimmerman East Earl,PA

    Sounds like Bush vs. Clinton all over again. Next we will be hearing an audiance memeber ask Giuliani how the deficit effects him personally in a debate.

    October 18, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. Mike, NY

    I'm not sure I'd take this poll all that seriously, as I don't trust that millions of Americans even know what a recession is.

    However, saying the economy is doing just great is equally as foolish.

    October 18, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. George from Illinois

    It's kind of like "The Emperor's new clothes" .. Just wait you find just how naked this country has been stripped.

    October 18, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. steve z, jacksonville beach, fl

    Funny, nothing negative towards the pres or his staff coming out of TX or ID.... and these are 1/2 the posts.

    Dollar is week, more jobs going overseas everyday, america produces nothing, unemployment going up, property values are useless..

    just keep driving SUV's and spending on you EQ line of credit, that will solve all the problems right?

    most americans forgot how to save a dollar, everyone wants everything, slow down people.

    October 18, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. AA San Diego

    Ohhh please. Look at you desparate ignorant republican Bush supporters grasping on to one tiny last molecule of oxygen as your ship goes down in a flame of perversion, deciet, lies and murder! Get your head out of your ass.

    October 18, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. LMM, Allentown, PA

    I suppose those who feel we are not in a recession must have far more money than the average Americans who were the ones in the poll. Only the wealthy or those who imagine they are wealthy believe in this administration.

    October 18, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Joe, Evansville IN

    Richard, you need to read the definition of Recession. Recession is a measurement of economic activity, not a measure of how many people apply for a job.

    October 18, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Brian, Washington DC

    When was the last time a strong American economy didn't give us all a little giggle when we compared our currency to that of our northern neighbors? Is Canada really doing that much better? Or are we doing that much worse?

    The point is, you can say we aren't in a recession, but lets expand on the term "recession" and look at it from the global and generational point of view. Every parent wants their children to have a better life than they had. Sure you can be an idealist and say that a better life doesn't necessarily revolve around greater income, but for the most part, in the western world, money buys comfort. And however many American dollars you manage to accumulate, they're worth less than our parents were, and our childrens' dollars will fall even shorter. And the fact that our children may grow up to earn twice what we did in our lifetime doesn't garauntee even half the standard of living many of us have enjoyed, and provided for our families.

    The economy our children will inherit will be riddled with national debt and retirement woes. The richest 1% of Americans will continue to prosper as they reap 99% of the profits generated in this country. The remaining 99% of us will continue to feel the crunch, and no matter what the numbers say, we're all very cognizant of the reality. Life is getting more expensive faster and by larger margins than salaries are growing. Plain and simple – the everyday man has been in a recession for years. Start looking at the macro view over generations, not quarters, and you'll realize we've been in recession for nearly 20 years.

    October 18, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Greg, Athens, PA

    Recession? Think about it, the dollar is at almost an all time low, oil is priced in dollars, oil approaching $90 a barrel. Trillions of dollars in US debt most of it is held by China, trade deficit all time high. A military operation in Iraq that does not have an end. A terrorist leader in Iran that wants nuclear weapons, now an ally of Russia. Jobs being outsourced. Savings at an all time low. If you lost your job would it completely destroy your earthly life? Would you lose your home, could you payoff your debt, could you eat? Could you do that without clinging on to some sort of government assistance program that just adds to our national debt? Recession? Did I answer your question?

    October 18, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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