Poll: 40% Of Americans Believe Economy Is In Permanent Decline

Another sign of economic pessimism from the latest CBS/New York Times Poll:

Nearly 4 in 10 Americans say they think the economy is in permanent decline, a new polls shows as deep pessimism about the economy becomes more widespread.

Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed for a New York Times/CBS News poll released late Wednesday say they see the economy headed on a downward path – significantly worse than when the question was last asked in October and 28 percent of Americans said the economy was in permanent decline.

At the same time, fewer Americans see the economy as having the potential to eventually recover, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying they think things will, in time, be better. That’s down from 68 percent in October.

As I’ve said before,  polls like this have a tendency to become predictive because people who think the economy will continue to be bad will act accordingly, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can’t say that the 40% of respondents are necessarily wrong, though, the evidence in favor of returning to anything resembling the economy of the 1990’s or mid-2000’s anytime soon is decidedly lacking.


FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, things are quite bad out there on Main Street. U-6 unemployment over 15% would be bad enough, standing alone, but when you also factor in the housing market and high prices for food and fuel it really is the worst economy since the Great Depression.

    Parenthetically, it would be interesting to know what numbers we’d see with a non-biased polling service. Obviously a poll commissioned by the NYT/CBS is going to skew to the left (i.e., ignorant and irrational). I suspect the actual figure for the “permanent decline” camp is several points higher, perhaps an outright majority.

    Of course the political ramifications of such widespread economic pessimism are axiomatic. Ergo next year’s election will be the most interesting perhaps in any of our lifetimes. Can a man get reelected to the highest office in the land in the midst of an economy so disasterous it can be compared with a straight face to the worst economic calamity in the country’s entire history? The bizarre irony is the answer to that query not only is yes, he can, there’s also a material chance, depending upon whom is nominated by the GOP, that Obama easily will win reelection. Strange days indeed.

  2. hey norm says:

    90% of all Americans under age 30 know their sun-sign. There are more than 10,000 practicing astrologers in the U.S., and Americans spend more than $200 million annually consulting astrologers.
    Americans made Michael Jackson the most popular entertainer in history.
    26 million Americans play Golf.
    30% of Americans believe in ghosts.
    So 40% of Americans believe the economy is in permanent decline.
    Americans are idiots.
    What’s your point?

  3. Moosebreath says:

    Of course, statistics like these may have something to do with why most people think the economy is in decline — they are getting none of the wealth being created. But of course, it is the sort of confiscatory socialistic practices which Doug deplores of the Democratic Party to even bring this up.

  4. Drew says:

    I’ve always said golf is the irrefutable root of decline in all societies.

    norm was saying something about idiots?

  5. This seems to be one of those poll questions where the people aren’t actually answering it, but answering something else. The idea the economy will keep going down forever is so patently impossible, I find it hard to believe the people predicting that really think that’s going to happen.

  6. SC says:

    For Drew:

    Funny – I’ve always looked at golf the same way. I remember George Carlin had a bit on golf he used to use, as well. He said something to the effect of it being the most elitest “sport” in the history of man. And while I don’t agree with a lot of what George used to say, I cannot agree more with regards to his main point on golf. Fairly humorous as well… Here, take a look for yourself: http://bcmoney-mobiletv.com/view/643/george-carlin-on-golf/ . RIP, George…

    For Stormy Dragon:
    “The idea the economy will keep going down forever is so patently impossible”.
    You’re missing the point entirely. And you’re in denial. It’s this same sort of “If I shove my head up my ass, it will get better” denial and apathy that got us where we’re at now. Bottom line is, when we destroyed our manufacturing base by sending it to China, we also destroyed the tax-base that our government relied on to run the country (and to play too much golf it seems, as well). And, no, in reality the US economy cannot technically remain in decline in forever – but it can continue in decline until the US exists no longer. We have become lazy, apathetic, “the-govenment-will-fix-it” cowards, with next to NO sense of personal responsiblity, honor, or class. You know what that all adds up to? Extinction. Think I’m overstating things? Just sit back, keep doing things the way you are, and watch it happen… It’s on your doorstep NOW. Sadly, most people are in denial, and just can’t see that. Think it’s getting bad now? Wait a couple years…

    Good day.

  7. Ben Wolf says:

    A healthy market needs more than land, labor and capital. It needs trust. No one has been punished for the systemic fraud which now composes such a large part of our economy. The end result (and everyone knows this, which is why people are so pessimistic) is that it’s only a matter of time before another, bigger financial crash.

    The industry knows it has the explicit backing of the Feds when it all blows up again, so they’re right back at work committing control fraud and looting the economy for all it’s worth. This is also why financial elites have campaigned to gut Medicare and Social Security; they want to make sure the government has enough cash on hand to bail them out again when the time comes.

    And no, the financial reform bill won’t prevent this from happening. It’s primary author, Chris Dodd, specifically stated it wouldn’t avert another financial crisis. Both parties have become far too dependent on money from finance to drag it back into reality.

  8. john personna says:

    This poll would be more interesting if we heard the “why’s” from these pessimists. China? Demographics? Rock music?

    Or is it just … malaise?