December 4th, 2008
12:01 PM ET
13 years ago

More Americans say recession is serious

( - More than four out of 10 Americans say the economy is in a serious recession, a belief that has grown stronger within the past few weeks, according to a poll released Thursday.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll of 1,096 Americans conducted earlier this week found the percentage of people who believe the economy is in a serious recession has grown to 42 percent from 32 percent in mid-October.

Overall, 89 percent of those polled believe the nation is in some form of recession – serious, moderate or mild. That's up from 76 percent in mid-October, a few weeks before the election.

On Monday, the first of the two days in which the survey was conducted, private economists making up the National Bureau of Economic Research stated the economy has been in recession since December 2007. Only 10 percent of those polled said the nation is not in recession.

During the time between the October and December polls, the effects of the financial crisis and the housing slump have intensified, as employers slashed jobs and consumers cut spending.

Despite the fact that people polled believe the recession is worsening, fewer believe that a depression on a scale of the 1930s is imminent, with the percentage declining to 38 percent from 41 percent in mid-October.

The poll found a slight decline in the percentage of Americans who believe things in the nation are going badly, to 79 percent from 83 percent just after the election.

The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. gl, Pittsburgh

    Just go out and buy some food and you will know that we are in a largre recession. I am the type that buy the same items every month and most of them items went up like 4 dollors or more. Now that's a large recession. Food I can not go with out, but Christmas gifts I will this year and my son is okay with that. Husband and I have each other for a gift this year. I have to agree that most Republicans think the economy is strong. I like to live on their planet.

    December 4, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Noah

    EW- because there is an actual definition for a recession. It is 2 straight quarters of decline in GDP (growth). Democrats have been saying every year since 2000 that we were in the middle of a bad economy, even though we experienced a record 55 straight months of GDP growth! Why is it that Liberals only do well in times when the economy is not doing well? I think that tells us alot about their motivation.

    December 4, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. bsmith171

    most americans don't have a clue about how finance works.
    who took out all these phopny mortgages and did not read the documents.
    how many failed to read their credit card terms?
    how many failed to read the terms on auto loans?

    December 4, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. john

    the American people have said we were in recession since late 06. It was only official when the big companies felt it and we stopped paying them. LET THE BIG THREE FAIL and the new guys rise up. There have been a lack of innovation for 30 years and now they will pay for it

    December 4, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. President Obama/VA

    Of course the recession is serious. Majority of Americans knew we were in a recession last year when all the political pundits were denying it. The President(Bush) called it a slow down(No.S.Sherlock.). It's called a recession. It's a shame to see that it took almost a whole year for these idiots to figure that out.

    December 4, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Susan in NC

    DUH! Ya think?

    December 4, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Tim

    "The only ones who disagree are the Republicans. They still think the economy is strong!"

    Yes, they sure do. They created this mess (as did such stalwart republican leaders as Reagan and GHW Bush). Now the average working people of America (you know, "Joe Six-Packs") are suffering.

    I'm just thankful McCain lost the election. Maybe now we can get this ship off the sandbar and back on sea.

    December 4, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Peggy - TX

    I bought into the capitalist model like a religion because I understand that capitalism is key to keeping the economy strong and innovation high; but, the negative effects of capitalism are that money tends to concentrate, unfairly, in the hand of a very few powerful individuals, excessive competition can actually results in less competition through monopolies and prevents new comers from entering a market, and short term goals to maximize profits for share holders has worked push manufacturing overseas and reduced research.

    Government regulation and involvement is needed to keep the American capitalism market strong, open and working for the American people. Also, when Americans get squeezed out of the job market, they deserve to get help. It is not socialism for Government to provide help for individuals faced with disabilities and job layoffs and other factors not in the individual’s control.

    December 4, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. Biff


    The "blame the victim" mentality is old. YES, people who overspent should (and always do) pay the price. but THEY are not the culprits in this economic mess. You think THE PEOPLE have the power to do this????? They don't have the power to manipulate financial tools, they don't have the power to lend money to themselves.... they don't have the power to manipulate stock prices... they don't have the power to move jobs to Mexico and India for cheap labor....

    but yeah.... it was 100 guys who traded their cars in early....

    December 4, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. MLH

    You know, these polls are weird. You could have asked any of the people I meet at the local cut-price grocery store over the last six months about the recession and you would have heard a consensus on a) yeah, it's a recession; and b) yeah, it's serious.

    December 4, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Ryan from IL

    I really, really hope Congress squashes those JERKS hopes at gm ford and chrysler for a bailout. all they want is more money. the consumers are the ones who need a bailout. THEY DO NOT! SCREW YOU CEOs!

    December 4, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Lisa in Florida

    It is not that the government and the economist took a year to "figure out" we are in a serious recession, it was an election year, and they never want to admit to anything big that will affect them adversely (republicans), so they wait until after the election to spoon feed us the bad news. It always amazes me how they (republicans) think they are fooling us. "If we say the words, then it is true..." mentality. It will be so refreshing to have real leadership in Obama with truth and transparency being the rule. People forget what real leadership looks and feels like. But I think the grown-ups are back in charge on Jan. 20. Thank God!!!

    December 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Allen

    What I would like to know is: Who is going to bail out/hand out the $90,000.00 of retirement 401K money, that my wife and I have lost?

    December 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Tiaunia, Texas

    Yah, it's pretty sad out here...
    Many are looking for roommates or moving in with family.

    When people are commiting suicide due to foreclosure, I think it's pretty clear what's going on in America.

    December 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. What recession?

    I'm down to my last million to donate to the Obama campaign...

    December 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Steve in VA

    When the Democrats invaded and took over Congress, everything went to heck in a handbasket. Thankfully I still have a job and I have some dough in the bank just in case. I don't have enough to survive four years of Obama but I will make do somehow.

    December 4, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Expect something else?

    So when does a recession technically become a depression? When are we going to start hearing the "d" word?

    Many believe a depression is defined as when all or some of these occur:
    – price deflation or hyperinflation
    – abnormal increases in unemployment
    – restriction of credit
    – shrinking output and investment
    – numerous bankruptcies
    – reduced amounts of trade and commerce
    – highly volatile relative currency value fluctuations, mostly devaluations

    Still others define a depression as when in which GDP contracts by at least 10%

    I wonder when we will start hearing the rumblings of the "d" word....

    December 4, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Sensible Cape Coral FL

    In some limited sense I fell sorry for those young adults who have never known what it is to do without something they WANT, not NEED.
    No one has ever said no to them so maybe the current recession will
    have some value. Hope springs eternal.

    December 4, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. It takes two

    Are Barney Frank and Chris Dodd Republicans?

    December 4, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Sue Brewer, Fairfield, OH

    I am so glad we have the Obama family in our White House and a man who cares about the common people. We have needed a man like this for so long. He really understands what is at stake for the American people. Let us humble ourselves and pray for our country and support Mr. Obama as he turns this country around with a new strong cabinet to help him. We need to stop pointing fingers and get up and do what we can for our neighbors...we all need to work together to make our country strong again. It isn't a crime or shame to do without luxuries that we have become used to. These are only things and we need to concentrate on doing what is important for America and our families.
    God Bless America.

    December 4, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. Cynthia; Bham

    I agree, I am retired and have come out of retirement to offset what is going on with the economy.

    December 4, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Mary - Independent

    It's serious when companies are "folding up" and many are losing their jobs. Meanwhile, the "bailout battle" continues to raise it's ugly head!

    December 4, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. jim/redondo beach


    December 4, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Matt

    @ Steve in VA

    The only reason things got worse in 2006 was because th eRepublicans in Congress started filibustering everything and Bush started wielding th eveto like the Sword of Damocles all in order to prevent the Dems from getting anything done. It was typical Republican sour grapes behavior and it is PRECISELY the kind o fthing for which the American public gave the GOP such a beatdown on Nov. 4th. Gro up, wake up and suck it up.

    December 4, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Lynn in NM

    But it's not so bad that Obama can't have all of his parties with his cronies. The people who can't eat or pay their bills are on his list of things to think about. Of course, Congress won't do anything about the economy either, until Obama takes office. Sounds like they are really worried, aren't they? Let's go for the brownie points instead of something that may help.

    December 4, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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