CARY – Jamie Dimon, chair and CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase, says a recession for the US economy is “probably” imminent after a wave of economic news pointing to a continuing decline in growth and rising mortgage rates.

But, like other observers of the economy such as N.C. State economist Dr. Michael Walden he left himself wiggle room in declaring a recession has begun because some economic data – such as jobs and declining unemployment claims – remains positive.

“Unfortunately, probably,” Dimon, who was touring the Triangle on Thursday to tout the bank’s growing presence in the region, told WRAL News. “But I think the way you should think of it is we’ve had a very strong recovery from COVID, which is great.

“Unemployment was at 15% now it’s under 4(%) and that’s good and consumers are still in pretty good shape,” he added. “So even if we have a recession, they’re going into it with you know lower debt balances and more income than they had before.

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“Jobs are plentiful. But the world is a complex place. There’s too much inflation. Rates are going up. The war in Ukraine. Those things are clearly going to slow down the economy.”

Latest gross domestic product figures declined for the second straight quarter, according to federal data released earlier Thursday. But Walden, like Dimon, sees continuing strength in the economy.

“My evaluation is we are currently NOT in a recession,” Walden told WRAL TechWire. ” The definition saying a recession occurs when there are two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth is a rule of thumb. The definition of a recession used by the official group charged with dating the business cycle (the National Bureau of Economic Research) says a recession occurs when there is a ‘broad based decline in economic activity over a substantial period of time.

“Currently, we don’t yet have a decline in one of the key components of the economy – the labor market,” he added. “Although job growth has slowed, growth is still occurring. Until we have declines in jobs and substantial increases in the unemployment rate, I – and I believe also the NBER – won’t say we are in a recession.  However, we may be heading for a recession in 2023.”

Should a recession actually hit, Dimon remains optimistic.

“Hopefully, whatever it is will be mild,” he said. “But let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

Mixed economic signals: GDP sinks, stocks dive, mortgage rates surge but jobs still strong