the economic climate
The "economic climate" just means the situation that the economy is in. It includes:
- How many people have jobs
- How much money businesses are making
- How well the stock market is doing
Although the phrase "economic climate" isn't negative, people mostly use it when the economy is bad. When people want to carefully talk about a bad economy, they often say things like:
The economic climate these days is tough.
In this economic climate, we can't afford to spend any additional money on staffing.