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U.S. Economy Contraction in Q1 Gives Presidential Candidates Chance to Talk Jobs

Updated on May 29, 2015

Recession Fears Loom in U.S. After 2015 Q1 Economic Contraction

Is the U.S. heading into a new recession?
Is the U.S. heading into a new recession? | Source

Great Recession Part Deux?

Is the post-Great Recession recovery petering out? While 2014 saw decent economic growth, Q1 of 2015 was rather muted. Originally, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy still grew in Q1...but now it appears that the economy actually contracted by 0.7 percent, reports The New York Times. This quarter of contraction is bad news because, if there are two consecutive quarters of contraction, we have a bona fide recession back on our hands. And with bad news comes a further slowing of business and consumer spending as people hold onto their money, anticipating tough times ahead.

The reporting of a downturn in the business cycle comes just as the political cycle is ramping up, meaning now is the time when voters want the myriad of 2016 presidential candidates to present their economic plans. From Rand Paul to Bernie Sanders, we want to know what these candidates will do to solidify our weak economic growth...or fight what might prove to be another recession. As a high school economics teacher, I am eager to listen to Keynesian, Classical, Monetarist, and Supply-Side arguments from across the political spectrum.

While candidates may dicker over issues like gay marriage, religious freedom, government police powers, and foreign policy, few issues are more important to voters than jobs. The other issues, for better or worse, are garnish to the meat-and-potatoes issues of economics. He (or she) who presents the best commonsense approach to reinvigorating the American economy will win over voters. During a recession, voters haven't the luxury of focusing on issues that won't put more food on the table or allow them to keep their house or their car.

Lesser-known candidates, like Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Rick Santorum, now have more opportunity to advance their economic agendas. Both men want to help the working class, though from different angles. News of an approaching recession will give both Sanders and Santorum more of a soapbox. Candidates who focus on non-economic issues, such as libertarian Republican Rand Paul, are now at a relative disadvantage.

If we have a second quarter of contraction, putting the U.S. officially back into a recession, look for Sanders and Santorum to pick up ground ahead of the 2016 primaries. While issues like gender equality, religious freedom, and gay marriage have loomed large thus far in 2015, they will likely be overridden by economic fears if the U.S. slips back into a recession. Speechwriters for all candidates had better start brushing up on their economic lingo!


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