Many Americans are wrong about key economic trends. Take this quiz to test your knowledge.


Americans have been notoriously downbeat about the country's financial outlook in the years since the pandemic, with just a third describing the economy as good in a CBS News poll earlier this year.

But increasingly, there is a gap between how a large portion of Americans think the economy is doing and what key indicators are showing, a dissonance that some describe as “vibecession.” In part, this disconnect reflects the limitations of the economic measure, which often fails to capture the financial realities facing millions of Americans.

That said, when asked about key economic trends and data, more than half of Americans get some basic financial issues wrong, according to a new Harris/The Guardian poll.

Think you have an accurate read on the state of the US economy? Answer the four questions below to find out.

Is the US in recession?

A) Yes
B) No

Answer: The correct answer is B. As economists commonly define, a recession is a decline in economic activity, or when GDP is negative. Because GDP has been growing, driven in part by strong consumer spending, at rates that have exceeded economists' expectations, the US economy is not in recession.

What Americans believe: About 56% of those polled by Harris/The Guardian said the US is currently experiencing a recession.

How has the S&P 500 performed in 2024?

A) Inventories for the year are up
B) The stock market is down for the year
C) The market has not changed

Answer: The correct answer is A. The S&P 500, a gauge of the broader stock market, is up 11% this year.

What Americans believe: About half of people polled by Harris/The Guardian said the stock market is down for the year.

How does the current unemployment rate compare to previous periods?

A) The unemployment rate is now near a 50-year low
B) The unemployment rate is approaching a 50-year high
C) The unemployment rate has not yet recovered from the pandemic

answer: The correct answer is A. The unemployment rate was 3.9% in April, near a 50-year low. Current unemployment numbers are also similar to levels experienced before the pandemic, indicating that jobs lost during the crisis have been recovered.

What Americans believeAbout half say unemployment is nearing a 50-year high.

Is inflation increasing or decreasing?

a) Inflation increases
B) Inflation is falling
C) Inflation does not change

answer: The answer is B. Inflation, which measures the rate of change in prices, has been falling since peaking at 9.1% in June 2022. In the most recent CPI reading, inflation to be 3.4% in April.

What Americans believe: About 7 in 10 said they believe inflation is rising, the Harris/Guardian poll found.

Are prices still going up? Yes. Although inflation, the rate at which prices change, is falling, prices are still rising. Falling inflation simply means that these price increases are moderating from the big increases experienced in 2022.


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