A majority of the nation’s economists are dead-certain a downturn is on the horizon, which as it turns out, is a moving target. Officials in the Trump administration, including the president, insist the U.S. economy is smokin’ hot, and their key indicators — jobs mostly — support such a belief.
For gamblers, the smart money would be on a recession happening, if for no other reason than the nation is in a decade-long economic upswing, the longest in U.S. history, and the nation’s economy is like most everything else predicated on the laws of gravity "What goes up must come down."
President Trump hasn’t offered much clarity. A few days ago, after saying the economy is strong and there would be no recession, he floated the idea of a payroll tax reduction to stimulate the economy. Contradictions, sometimes within a few hours of each other, seem to be a hallmark of this administration. There also has been reported that White House economic advisors are said to be poking around for ways to prevent a recession, because if one comes along, say, in the next six months or so, Trump’s re-election chances could take a hit.
There also is the fact that two-thirds of U.S. business economists see the downturn beginning within a year to 18 months. More than a third say it will happen within 12 months, smack-dab in the midst of the 2020 presidential campaigning.
U.S. consumers are already starting to tighten up. Just since the first of last month, consumer confidence has dropped more than 6 percent, likely because of trade tensions between the Trump administration and the rest of the world.
It could ease consumer anxiety to know that most economists predicting a recession believe it won’t be anything of the magnitude of the Great Recession, which shattered all kinds of records for longevity and pain. Most of us felt that pain, some more than others.
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Not counting the Great Recession, most of these events last from six months to a little more than a year. Jobs in certain sectors of the economy will disappear, with manufacturing and related industries taking the biggest hits.
Some jobs are almost recession-proof, among them healthcare, legal, accounting, government and education. But even those positions usually suffer stagnant wages during such a downturn. In fact, there may be small growth in employment. Financial uncertainty is a great job-search motivator.
It’s tough to prepare for something you’re not sure is going to happen, but there are things most Americans should consider: Talk family finances over in a sit-down meeting. Identify places where you can cut expenses. If you have a job, always be a star employee. Save as much money as you can afford.
But perhaps the most important advice is to keep living, enjoy your life and try hard not to get swallowed up by worry, anxiety and pessimism. The up-and-down nature of the nation’s economy means that when it goes down, it will eventually go back up. It’s the nature of the beast.
Pessimism is public enemy No.1, and just because polls show a drop in consumer confidence does not mean folks are giving up. After all, ours is a country built on optimism and the can-do spirit that has made America a great nation, a world superpower in just about every context of the phrase.
Finally, do not let politicians convince you the sky is falling. Just look up and know what’s really going on.