Americans have soured further on the economy under President Joe Biden, according to the latest ABC News /Ipsos poll, which shows that the share of U.S. respondents who think the economy is getting worse has soared to its highest level since the financial crisis of 2008–09.
More than two-thirds (69 percent) of American adults believe the U.S. economy is deteriorating, according to the poll (pdf), published three months before the midterm elections in November.
That’s the highest share of Americans who say the economy is getting worse since 2008, when 82 percent expressed a similarly pessimistic view.
The survey, carried out on a sample of 665 respondents and with a 4.2 percentage point margin of error, also shows Americans trust Republicans over Democrats to handle key issues like crime, the economy, and inflation.
The poll also provides added contours to the heated debate on whether the United States has—as some economists argue—fallen into a recession or—as members of the Biden administration insist—it has not.
Recession or Something Else?
Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and a number of economists have argued that the U.S. economy isn’t in a recession, despite meeting the informal rule-of-thumb definition for a contraction—namely, two back-to-back quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
While the two-quarter rule has for decades served as a shorthand definition of recession, economic contractions in the United States are declared by a committee of economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), who use a broader definition than the two-quarter rule-of-thumb.
Yellen told a press conference in late July that “most economists and most Americans” define a recession as a “broad-based weakening” of the U.S. economy that includes businesses shuttering in large numbers and mass layoffs.
“That is not what we’re seeing right now when you look at the economy. Job creation is continuing, household finances remain strong, consumers are spending, and businesses are growing,” Yellen said at the time.
Other metrics Yellen mentioned include consumer spending continuing to rise in the second quarter and industrial output showing solid average growth over the first two quarters of the year, compared with sharp average drops in past recessions.
She also singled out the large drop in private inventories that shaved more than two percentage points off the headline GDP number as companies trimmed stockpiles they rushed to build at the peak of the supply chain crunch.
Excluding the sharp inventory swing would have put the second-quarter GDP number into positive territory.
‘Definitely a Recession’
Vance Ginn, chief economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD in an earlier interview that while officially it’s NBER that calls recessions, the two-quarter definition is “usually how it’s done by a rule of thumb.”
“I think this is definitely recession that we’re in now from these bad policies,” Ginn added, blaming a series of progressive policies coming out of the White House, the Democrat-controlled House, and the Federal Reserve.
While Ginn acknowledged that there’s “not one clear way of defining a recession,” he pointed out that since around 1950, every time that the economy experienced two back-to-back quarters of negative growth, that ended up being counted as a recession.
Ginn also objected to Yellen’s touting labor market strength as evidence that the U.S. economy hasn’t yet fallen into a recession.
“The labor market is a lagging indicator in the overall economy,” Ginn said, adding that businesses lay off workers as a last resort and that the job market is typically one of the last indicators to roll over.
The latest job creation numbers have come in hot, with the Labor Department’s latest non-farm payroll numbers beating market expectations, with 528,000 added positions in July, and the unemployment rate falling, to 3.5 percent.
Still, given the lagging nature of labor market indicators, some economists warn that the (un)employment pain is still to come.
Trump Warns of ‘a Lot Worse’ Than Recession
Former President Donald Trump has issued a stark warning to Americans to brace for something “a lot worse than a recession,” while blaming the Biden administration’s poor stewardship of the economy for soaring inflation.
Trump, when speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas on Aug. 6, drew a contrast with the economy under Biden, blaming him for the highest inflation in decades that, without details, Trump estimated is costing American families as much as $7,000 a year.
“After the pandemic, we handed the radical Democrats the fastest economic recovery ever recorded, the history of our country, ever recorded,” Trump said.
“They’ve turned that into two straight quarters of negative economic growth, also known, despite their protestation to the contrary, as a recession.”
Trump then issued a grim warning that absent a course correction on the part of the country’s political leadership, the recession could spiral into something even worse.
“Just hope that the recession doesn’t turn into a depression, because the way they’re doing things, it could be a lot worse than a recession,” Trump said.