NEW YORK—Americans’ outlook for the future is grim, though there are some indications it is leveling out or even slightly improving, according to a recent YouGov/Economist survey. Only one in four say the current economic situation is excellent (4 percent) or good (21 percent)—about the same as a previous survey this fall indicated. 

Yet, on the other hand, nearly half (46 percent) say the economy is getting worse, while 19 percent say it is getting better—a slight improvement from last week’s 48 percent to 14 percent split on these two metrics, according to the survey’s findings. Half (52 percent) don’t expect a full post-pandemic economic recovery until more than two years from now, while just 27 percent expect a recovery within about a year. The figures were a grimmer—57 percent and 22 percent—a month ago. 

Six in 10 people (62 percent) say a recession is likely in the next 12 months, including 25 percent who say a recession is very likely in that timeframe. Both fears are at higher levels than in late March 2020, during the lockdown of the pandemic’s first weeks.

There is a political component to the fear of recession, as with many facets of public opinion about the state of the economy. With Democrat Joe Biden in the White House, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say a recession is very likely (42 percent to 11 percent). However, even among Democrats a slight majority (51 percent) says that a recession is somewhat or very likely within the next 12 months.

The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9, 2021. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey.