Economists’ Survey: Recession to Start Later than Expected 

February 27, 2023

A survey released Monday of top U.S. economists found that the majority believe a national recession will begin later than previously forecast.

According to the survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), 58% of the 48 economists who responded foresee a recession sometime this year—the same figure the survey found in December. However, in the new survey, only one-fourth of those economists believe a recession will kick off before the end of March—half as many as those that made the same prediction in December. 

The economists surveyed hail from business, trade associations and academia. 

One-third of those economists in the new survey expect a recession to begin sometime between April and June. Another fifth predict sometime between July and September.

The economists’ revisions come as the U.S. has experienced an unexpectedly resilient economy. Retail sales jumped 3% in January after drooping the two previous months. And after a burst of hiring in January—some 517,000 new jobs—the unemployment rate has dropped to a mere 3.4%, the lowest level since 1969.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a recession is defined as “a gradual decline of the economy that occurs over at least six months.” That includes at least a 1.5% decline in GDP—the total value of all goods and services produced in a given year plus foreign investment—and an unemployment rate of 6% or higher.

For some time, economists have expressed concerns that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive raising of key interest rates to temper inflation would lead to a “hard landing” for the economy. However, in October Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, countered that safeguards—like the low unemployment rate—would prevent that from happening. 

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