Finance

Nearly Half the Public Thinks the Country Is in a Recession. Another Quarter Expect One Within a Year

Almost a third of U.S. adults are actively preparing for an economic downturn, while half say they want to prepare for a recession but can’t

Photograph of eggs at a grocery store featuring price tag
Eggs are pictured at a grocery store in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19, 2023. A Morning Consult survey found that 46% of U.S. adults think the country is currently in a recession, and another 25% expect one within a year. (Stefani Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

As economists chew on the latest data showing falling retail sales, slowing inflation and signs that the sizzling labor market is starting to cool, a new Morning Consult survey finds that 46% of U.S. adults believe the country is currently mired in a recession, while another 25% expect one within the next year.

More Than 2 in 5 Adults Say a Recession Is Here
Another 1 in 4 adults expect a downturn within the next year

Respondents were asked if they think the United States is …

Survey conducted Jan. 13-15, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,206 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

GOP adults most pessimistic on economic outlook

  • Republicans were the most convinced of a current or coming recession, with 57% saying the country is currently in a recession, and 26% expecting one within the next year. 
  • Among adults who said the economy is their top concern, 51% believe the country is currently in a recession, and 24% believe the United States will experience one within the next year. 
  • Adults in households with differing incomes had similar views on whether the country is currently experiencing a downturn: 46% of those making less than $50,000 a year said the country is currently in a recession, compared with 48% of those making $50,000-$100,000 and 42% of those earning more than $100,000 annually. 
Nearly a Third of the Public Is Preparing for a Possible Recession

Respondents were asked if they are taking any steps to prepare for a possible recession or economic downturn

Survey conducted Jan. 13-15, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,206 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Much of the public wants to prepare for a recession but can’t

  • Half of U.S. adults said they have not actively taken steps to prepare for a recession but wish they could. Adults living in households with incomes over $100,000 a year were the most likely to have taken action, with 41% saying they are preparing for a downturn. 
  • While 36% of men said they had taken steps to prepare for a downturn, 27% of women said the same. But women were more likely to wish they could prepare, with 58% saying they wanted to but couldn’t prepare, compared with 41% of men who wished they could prepare. 
  • Among adults who said the economy is their biggest concern, 35% said they have prepared for a recession, while 13% haven’t because they don’t want or need to, and another 52% haven’t but wish they could. 

Inflation may be losing steam, but so are consumers

While the latest economic data may be offering some signs of relief from inflation, possibly even leading some Federal Reserve officials to consider tapping the brakes on their interest rate hike strategy, consumers are still feeling the burn of rising prices and pulling back on spending. Morning Consult’s latest consumer spending report noted a 4.3% decline in spending in December, with 21.3% of U.S. adults saying their monthly expenses exceeded their monthly income. 

For many consumers, the price of basic necessities may be feeding into their recession perceptions. The dramatic rise in the price of eggs has made the rounds on social media and news outlets, and in the open-ended response portion of the survey, the prices of gas and groceries were frequently mentioned as a financial challenge, including a Gen X woman who wrote that “grocery costs are crazy right now.”

The Jan. 13-15, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,206 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.