One in four Americans think we're in a recession worse than 2008’s

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
June 15, 2022, 10:06 PM GMT+0

For many Americans, the country is in a recession, and it is personal. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, more than half of Americans say the country is in a recession — when posed the question directly. When given a number of options — that the country's economy is growing, stable, slowing down, or in a recession — 43% choose recession and an additional 33% say the economy is slowing down. (By the usual definition the country is not in a recession, though many economists expect one this year.)

What may be more important is that only 19% of the people who believe the country is in a recession (on either of the two questions mentioned above) describe that recession as mild. More (43%) say it’s moderate, with nearly as many (38%) calling it serious. A little more than half of Americans (54%) who say we’re currently in a recession say it’s worse than the 2008 recession. About one in eight (13%) say it’s better and the same share says it’s just as bad.

Most Americans say that what marks a recession is high prices, something U.S. consumers are experiencing now. More than half (54%) believe "the prices of goods and services you buy" is the best indicator of a recession, among four options offered (one of the others, their personal finances, may also reflect prices for some respondents). That's even more true for people who describe the country as currently in a recession: 67% of them say prices are the best indicator of a recession.

What do Americans blame for economic problems in the U.S.? A large share (58%) give supply-chain issues "a lot" of the responsibility, and 47% do the same for COVID-19. Corporations, interest rates, the war in Ukraine, and consumer confidence are less likely to be described as bearing a lot of responsibility for economic problems.

While Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to place a lot of blame on supply-chain issues for the state of the U.S. economy, there is less partisan consensus on the role of other factors. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to attribute economic problems to COVID-19, corporations, and the war in Ukraine. Republicans, on the other hand, are more likely than Democrats to lay a lot of blame on interest rates and a lack of consumer confidence.

To many Americans, the U.S. seems to be in worse shape economically than the world as a whole. About half (52%) describe the U.S. economy as in a poor state, while just 37% say the same about the global economy. Republicans are more negative than Democrats about both: 77% of Republicans say the U.S. economy is in a poor state, and 51% describe the global economy the same way.

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on June 11 - 14, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll

Image: Getty