It's a recession: 75% of Americans say

Vast majority of Americans believe economy is still in a recession with no signs of recovery, though negative views are dwindling, according to a recent CNN poll.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most Americans still think the economy is in a recession, but the number who feel that way has declined, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday.

In a telephone poll of over 1,000 adult Americans, 75% said they believe the nation is now in a recession. That figure fell from 79% in April. In March 74% believed the U.S was in a recession.

This decline is the first time the number - which had been steadily rising since October - has fallen. Then, the poll showed only 46% thought the economy was in a recession.

"From a consumers's perspective, the economy is bad, and the environment is going to be tough for a while," said Wachovia economist Mark Vitner. "That's pretty accurate."

The traditional definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Though growth was sluggish in the last quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, the U.S. economy has not yet shown retraction in the current slowdown. The advance GDP numbers for the second quarter of 2008 are due to be released on July 31.

"Whether the economy technically meets the definition of a recession matters more for economists and policy makers than it does for consumers," said Vitner. "Consumers' frame of mind is pretty simple: it's a bad economy."

It's evident that times are tough: More than 324,000 jobs have been lost so far in 2008, and the mortgage and credit crises have crushed consumer confidence. Also, rising food and energy costs are hurting Americans in the pocketbooks.

Of those who think the economy is in a recession, 27% said they believe we are in a serious recession, down from 29% who said so in March. Slightly more people -19% - believe the economy is in a mild recession than the 16% who said so in March.

Americans are less confident in the future of the economy than the were in March. The poll showed that 23% believe the downturn will last more than two years, up from 19% in March. Only 2% think it will end in six months.

Economists also think the economy is due for a long rebound. Though the economy in second and third quarters of 2008 are expected to grow due to a boost from the stimulus checks, experts expect consumer spending and the economy to decline in the fourth quarter.

In a section of the poll released last week, 93% of voters say the economy is "extremely" or "very" important to their vote for president this November, edging out the war in Iraq as the biggest issue on voters' minds. (More at CNNPolitics.com.)

The poll was conducted between June 26 and June 29. To top of page

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