Amid the highest inflation rate in decades and ahead of an economic report that could show a second quarter of gross domestic product contraction, Americans are increasingly concerned about a recession.
For its part, the White House is seeking to tamp down those fears by insisting that a recession is not imminent.
Despite the fact that two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP is the traditional definition of a recession, President Joe Biden attempted to put a positive spin on the nation’s economy.
In a response to reporters on Monday, he said: “We’re not going to be in a recession, in my view.”
He cited strong labor market numbers as a reason for his optimism, though certain industries have recently announced layoffs or hiring freezes.
Biden said that his “hope is that we go from this rapid growth into a steady growth,” predicting “some coming down” from recent economic highs.
“But I don’t think we’re going to, God willing, I don’t think we’re going to see a recession,” he concluded.
His remarks came on the heels of a White House statement that recommended taking a “holistic” view of the economy instead of relying on the traditional definition of what a recession is.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen similarly attempted to revise the benchmarks during an interview on Sunday, asserting: “A recession is a broad-based contraction that affects many sectors of the economy. We just don’t have that.”
Brian Deese, the director of the White House National Economic Council, followed up by emphasizing technicalities.
“Certainly, in terms of the technical definition, it’s not a recession,” he said on Monday. “The technical definition considers a much broader spectrum of data points.”
When it comes to trusting the same administration that assured Americans last year that inflation was merely “transitory,” however, it is clear that many citizens are skeptical.
Polls conducted in recent months show a steady increase in the number of respondents who believe the nation is already in the grips of recession. In May, just under half of those polled said a recession is here. That number rose to 53% in June and 58% this month. Furthermore, less than 20% of respondents said their personal wages are keeping up with inflation – and more than half say they are not.