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In U.S., 71% Believe Economy Is in Recession or Depression

In U.S., 71% Believe Economy Is in Recession or Depression

by Zach Hrynowski

Story Highlights

  • 71% of Americans say U.S. is in economic depression or recession
  • Percentage saying U.S. in depression (30%) up 10 points since late March
  • All political party groups show increasingly negative views of economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As states begin to weigh the implications of reopening businesses in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, 71% of Americans say the country is in an economic depression or recession, a figure that has remained at or above 70% since mid-April.

Depression-Recession totals

Line graph. The percentage of Americans who believe the country's economy is in a recession or depression. In Gallup's May 18-24 survey, 71% of respondents thought the economy was in a recession or depression, the sixth consecutive week this figure has been above 70% and an increase of 14 percentage points since Gallup first asked the question from March 23-29.

When Gallup first asked the question from March 23-29, 57% of Americans believed the country was in a depression (20%) or a recession (37%), while 41% believed the economy was "slowing down." Since then, the percentage believing the country's economy is slowing has decreased by 17 percentage points, which roughly reflects the increase in Americans saying the economy has entered a depression or recession. The perception that the country is in a depression has increased most sharply, rising ten points since March to 30%.

Americans' view of economy growing less optimistic
Right now, do you think the economy is...?
Mar 23-29 May 18-24 Change
% % pct. pts.
Growing 3 5 +2
Slowing down 41 24 -17
In a recession 37 41 +4
In an economic depression 20 30 +10
Gallup Panel, 2020

While it may be too early to assess whether the United States has entered a depression or recession -- a recession is often defined as two or more quarters of negative gross domestic product growth, and a depression is a longer-lasting, more severe recession -- 43% of Americans recently rated economic conditions in the U.S. as "poor," the highest level that Gallup has recorded since April 2011, and similar to Americans' assessments of the economy in early 2008.

While there are few significant demographic gaps in Americans' assessment of the economy, party affiliation is strongly related to one's views, as it has been for many other aspects of public opinion of the coronavirus. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats say the U.S. is in a depression or recession, nearly 40-percentage-points higher than Republicans (48%). However, respondents of all political parties are now 12 to 18 percentage points more likely to believe the country is in a depression or recession than they were at the end of March.

Economy-by party

Line graph. Comparison of Americans' views of the U.S. economy by party identification. As of May 24, 87% of Democrats believe the economy is in recession or depression, nearly 40 points higher than Republicans. 72% of independents say the same.

Democrats are more than twice as likely to say the country is in a depression (39%) as their Republican counterparts (16%). Meanwhile, 37% of Republicans say the economy is slowing down, compared with 12% of Democrats who say the same.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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