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. Hank

    I love all the Pollyannas here who think the economy is not in a recession because it grew in past years. Here' a clue for those idiots. The past is not indicative of the present and future. Recessions always start well before economists are aware of the shift downward. Chances are very good that we are indeed in a recession. Doofuses who don't think so should turn off Larry Kudlow and read some news.

    October 18, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. C. Adams

    Most Americans (we are told) can't find the U.S. on a world map so why would we trust their sense of the country's economic health?

    Or maybe it's the media reporting these things we can't trust?

    October 18, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Esther, Roselle, IL

    We may not be in a recession, but peoples' paychecks cover less and less nowadays. Many people cannot afford to live anywhere but out in the sticks. And that's bad because of the high cost of travel. Health care costs are skyrocketing. No one has stopped the predatory practices of credit card companies, either.

    So, not a recession, but there is certainly good reason for many people in the middle class and below to feel squeezed.

    We need greater tax cuts and a government that spends the bare minimum only on the things that are important. We have "compassionate conservatism" and old-fashioned big government liberalism, and no real alternative. There are no fiscal conservatives anymore–at least no viable ones.

    So we will continue to be squeezed and squeezed while the government takes more and more. Socialist "utopia," here we come!

    October 18, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. David, Waterford, MI

    I'm responding to whack job posts. Did Bush tell all of the remaining people in his administration to post hatred and bias? Actually, I don't think there are enough left in his administration to get this many bad posts. What it comes down to is neither Democratic or Republican. It comes down to a goverment that is not for the people and by the people. The government needs an overhaul more than the American auto industry. It's a mess and it's a shame. How long before America gets a serious dose of humility that will take us back to our core values? As far as recession, probably not. Is it near by? I think more than not, yes.

    October 18, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. PollM, Dallas Tx

    Wow pretty sad milk is $4 a gallon.
    Gas at $2.75 per Gallon.
    Insurance up
    Mortgage payments up.
    Tax up.

    and politicians still say Inflation is tame. WOW, bloody wow.

    Has your economic situation improved or deteriorated in the last year?


    October 18, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. A. Goodwin

    If you read the article, the poll was not based on actual economic research – but whether individuals felt as if America were in a resession. It was purely an opinion poll.

    It floors me how as soon as a poll like this is presented to the American public, whether scientific-based or not, everyone is out to slam the Democrats, liberal media, or anyone who does not prescribe to the presidents agenda. Did anyone happen to think that some of the people who were polled were probably Republican? Why assume that someone's opinion on the economy has anything to do with politics, the president, etc.?

    By the way, the majority of Republican's running for the presidency feel that while America might be currently economically sound – the future does not look so bright. With the housing market deteriorating, critical job losses in some states, and runaway government spending...its easy for someone to have an OPINION that America is either in a recession or heading for one.

    October 18, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. geo new yok city ny

    i don't think we are in a recession as of yet.
    but, you have not seen anything yet. we are headed for the worst economic conditions since the great depression.
    so all you rosy headed people here will get the shock of your lives.

    October 18, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Jerry Zimmerman East Earl,PA

    Bush Vetoed a bill that would have provided health insurance to middle class children whoose parents could easily afford health insurance. The middle class families would have had this benefit provided to them with taxes from poor smokers. The house knew the bill was going to be vetoed. The passage was only to provide CNN with republican bashing headlines. Bush said he was willing to talk about a realistic bill that would help cover the poor with out putting the burden on the poor to pay for it.
    This will probably be what is eventually passed, but in the till then we will hear hundreds of headlines about how republicans hate children.

    October 18, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Steve, Miami, FL

    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?

    October 18, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. pete dowers

    why does the media have to keep going with black /white issues if the media wasnt so bent on race i believe it wouldnt be as bad as it is projected.
    i cannot understand why you have to put in headlines{most blacks believe we are in a recession} what about the whites,hispanics,asains we are all amaricans why dont you stop trying to stir up some kind of race war

    October 18, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. Bob, Rochester Hills MI

    People can "feel" whatever they want, but a recession has an absolute definition of two consecutive quarters with a negative GDP.

    October 18, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Kevin Maguire - Boston, MA

    Why would employers on Craigslist still get 200+ resumes for a lousy $10 hr job in Manhattan?

    Plus its NO big deal anymore if 5000 people show up at Walmart for 350 jobs….thats 'JUST NORMAL" TODAY.


    5000 people show up for jobs at Walmart? Really? Where?

    Who submits a resume for a $10/hr job?

    Are you talking about the same idiots who make up this 46%??

    If you have a college education, a good work ethic and are articulate, you can get a very good job. I receive 2-3 calls per week from recruiters trying to place me in one of the many openings they are trying to fill and this is very common among my peers in the Northeast.

    Do you understand the term labor shortage?

    October 18, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Moamie

    Gen X are a bunch of cry babies.


    October 18, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Bryan Forbes, Los Angeles, CA

    "The recession findings may be having an impact on President Bush's approval rating." What recession findings? There were none cited in the article. You did omit other pertinent information from NBER's web site regarding how it defines a recession, such as its statement that "Most of the recessions identified by our procedures do consist of two or more quarters of declining real GDP.." While NBER goes on to defend its use of other indicators to determine when the economy is in a recession, it does this primarily because of untimely revisions to the quarterly GDP data. Your article could have been informative to the public regarding its perceptions on our current economic conditions but, sadly, you chose to participate in perpetuating the economic falsehood that the U.S. is in a recession.

    October 18, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Steve, Lyons, CO

    "Two, you easily could have noted that we did RECENTLY have a recession at the end of the CLINTON years (dotcom boom went bust)..."

    Sorry, liar, but that recession started AFTER the Worst. President. Ever. started handing tax cuts to the rich and corporate, followed by the likely planned 9-11 attacks that bankrupted the country. Clinton handed Bush a balanced budget. President Criminal turned it into the biggest deficit ever.

    Check your facts, knee-jerk fascists. Your time has come and gone, and Bush will be reviled throughout history.
    ... and it was the shortest ever because the idiot Bush enacted the tax cuts for people that actually pay taxes..."

    No, that would be the middle class, who got shafted again. They got no relief. Bush reserved that for his corporate buddies and other rich people, whose tax rate has somehow been lowered to one point above the middle class.

    That means, our tax structure punishes the middle class.

    "The tax cuts went to and that is also what got us through the possibility of our economy being DEVASTATED after 9-11."

    Revisionist history R U. Sell this crap to the Grimm brothers.

    October 18, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Dave, San Francisco, CA

    – I believe we're in a recession.
    – I believe in man made global warming.
    – I believe Islamic freedom fighters hate us because we're imperialistic.
    – I believe in socialized medicine
    – I believe in taxing our way to prosperity.
    – I believe pro-choice right up to the fetuses 13th birthday.
    – I believe in the UN.
    – I believe Iran wants nuclear energy for generating power.
    – I believe CNN, Time and Dan Rather
    – I believe Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Bill Clinton have our best interest in mind.
    – I believe our educational system has failed me.

    October 18, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Bill Charleston SC

    I am truly tired of pollsters and politicians dividing this country. We're carved up along racial and gender lines. Enough is enough. We're all Americans.

    October 18, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. David, Gilbert Arizona

    First off half of Americans were not polled. I wasn't. No one I know was polled. This is just another CNN asking 647 people a question and extrapolating the numbers onto the entire nation.

    Of the people polled it would not surprise me to find out they are basing their opinion of the economy on the housing industry. A recession is based on a quarterly decline of the overall GDP, which isn't actually declining at all. The average Joe is only looking at one element and screaming the sky is falling.

    The markets have consistantly tracked positive over time. Unemployement is still below 5%. The average mean salary has increased in the calendar year 2007.

    The recession findings, contrary to Mr. Steinhauser's article, bode poorly for the democrats. This might actually explain why Mr. Steinhauser's article reads the way it does, meaning it is disingenuous. If the economy is doing well, which is actually is, the democrats and their socialistic programs have no financial basis. Why would the average middle class family need subsidized health care if the economy is performing well and salaries are up?

    It is in the best interest of the democrats to insist the economy is crashing and the sky is going to fall any second.

    October 18, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Jason, Starkville, MS

    What kind of brain washing agenda does CNN have? "Nearly half of Americans feel the U.S. economy is in a recession"

    What? ummm...say that again? Why doesn't the headline read "Most Americans feel the U.S. economy is not in a recession"?????

    The answer: CNN wants Americans to believe that the economy is in bad shape. CNN does not want Americans to know that we are in our 49th consecutive month of job creation. Why? Because there is a Christian Republican on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    October 18, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Doug, Hilliard OH

    Strap on the protectionist and isolationist boots and quit spending, it's all Bush's fault that we are now in an "opinionated" recession, good grief. Bush is still the only president to ever SEND me a check!

    October 18, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Joe, Texas

    Give me a break. That's because more than half of people are morally bankrupt and their lifes are in recession.

    October 18, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. TLF, Laurel MD

    Why are people getting SOOOOO worked up about this? Who really believes that 46 percent of Americans feel we are in a recession? Last I checked, I am American and I don't recall being asked. What's even more hilarious is the fact that supposedly 69% of blacks feel this way. I also happen to be an American of African descent, which I guess by this terminology makes me black, and I don't know ANYONE who was questioned by the CNN-Opinion Research Corporation in regards to whether or not we are in a recession. These numbers are obviously skewed because maybe 69 percent of the 5000 people they actually polled agree we are in a recession but I doubt that anyone could feasibly state that 42 percent of Americans feel this way because 42 percent of Americans were probably not asked to comment.

    October 18, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. G-man. Pittsburgh, PA

    Wow, my premise is correct. 50% of the population of America is totally ignorant. And they vote.....

    October 18, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. BR, Richmond,VA

    I think that the article speaks more so on the division of wealth in the nation. Most people aren't aware of the true definition of Recession and so they associate Recession with less money to spend. So to argue about liberal media and left wing and right wing is short sighted. Everything and everyone isn't divided along party lines. The 69% of blacks polled as well as the 42% of whites polled more than likely zeroed in on the second and third sections of the definition provided: "a significant decline in real income and employment". So in other words they have less money in their pockets and potentially can't find work. And with that being said we have bloggers talking about Bush, leftists, liberals and either their affirmation or disdain for one. That is the importance of this article. Wake up it is about more than Bush or yourselves.

    October 18, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Tim, Baltimore MD

    Wow. America will not progress while you rich ignorant hicks profess the economy is good and not in a recession simply because your family and yourselves are doing all right. You need to be personally slapped in the face by the symptoms of a depression before you too admit what constitutes a reality. Come out of the closet.

    October 18, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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