Stimulus Update: Now That Federal Stimulus Funds Have Ended, Here's What the Majority of Americans Are Worried About

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • Many Americans are concerned about a potential recession.
  • A recession is unlikely in 2022.
  • Knowing the signs to look for can help us prepare.

It's unlikely we'll experience another recession in the near future, although it's unfair to blame those who worry.

It's been 13 months since the last stimulus checks began landing in bank accounts across the country. Now, according to the CNBC + Acorns Invest in You survey, 81% of Americans say they're worried about another economic decline.

Maybe we're still in shock over how quickly a pandemic can bring an economy to its knees, or perhaps those who had never been laid off from their jobs prior to COVID-19 are afraid it will happen again.

Whatever the reason, 81% of those surveyed sounded pretty discouraged, saying they believe the U.S. economy is likely to experience a recession in 2022.

Why they're probably wrong

According to the Bank of America (BoA) economists, it is unlikely there is a recession on the immediate horizon. In fact, those economists predict growth of around 3%. Here are some of the reasons why:

Higher bank balances

By the first quarter of this year, customers who typically carried a balance of $1,400 in their bank accounts now carry an average of $7,400. Those who typically carried between $2,000 and $5,000 now carry $12,500. Between stimulus checks and the fact that there were so few places to spend money during the darkest days of the pandemic, many of us managed to tuck away a chunk of money.

For lower-income BoA customers, credit card debt has dropped 12% since the first quarter of 2020. In addition, bank balances are up 39%.

What does a higher bank balance have to do with an economic recession? The more money people have in their accounts, the more they feel comfortable spending, and spending stimulates the economy.

Commercial loan growth

The number of businesses borrowing money for expansion has increased, up 5% from the end of 2021. The fact that businesses are ready to grow and feel confident in their ability to repay loans is another strong indicator of the immediate economy.


According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate fell in March to 3.6%, below the market expectation of 3.7%. Because a climbing unemployment rate is one indicator of an upcoming recession, a falling interest rate provides more evidence that a recession is not upon us.

Perspective matters

When surveyed, those who identify as Republican say they are worse off financially than they were this time last year. They're also more likely to anticipate an upcoming economic downturn. Democrats, on the other hand, are more optimistic. While news sources may explain the difference, it's not entirely clear why such a divide exists.

Know the signs

There's no guarantee that the U.S. won't hit a recession in the upcoming years. In fact, recessions come and go on a regular basis. Depending upon which economist you ask, the U.S. suffered through either its 45th or 47th recession during the pandemic.

Those surveyed who predicted a recession this year cannot be faulted. After all, three of the six major indicators of a recession look a bit shaky. Here's where each of those indicators stands:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP): GDP indicates how much money is generated by an economy in a given period of time. While GDP dropped by 1.4% in the first quarter of 2022, GDP was up by 6.9% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
  • Real income: A figure that is calculated by measuring personal income and adjusting it for inflation. This figure matters because it's a sign of how much purchasing power the average American has. Real income decreased by 0.8% between February and March. It's not much, but is enough to make some folks nervous.
  • Manufacturing: Measures the health of the manufacturing sector. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, current indicators for manufacturing remain positive.
  • Retail sales: Measures wholesale and retail sales, adjusted for inflation, to get a sense of how the overall market is performing. Retail sales were up 0.7% month over month in March, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Employment: As mentioned, the unemployment rate is low and there are plenty of new jobs waiting to be filled. Typically, an unemployment rate over around 6% is considered a problem. Today, it is 3.7%.
  • Inflation: When inflation makes it difficult to buy goods and services, the door opens to recession. Whether it's a result of the pandemic, Russian attack on Ukraine, or a combination of both, higher prices are undeniable.

While recession indicators are a matter of facts and figures, a recession has real world consequences. It's no surprise that so many people are worried about what's to come, particularly since we've likely seen the last of federal stimulus checks.

The best we can do is make sure we have an emergency savings account in place, cut back on unnecessary expenses, and plan for a rainy day. Recessions are inevitable, but we probably see one in 2022.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow