Are We Better Off Than 4 Years Ago?

Does the President deserve reelection because the 2008-09 recession, like every previous recession in history, ended?

On the Today Show Obama Campaign Spokesperson Stephanie Cutter was asked to answer the question the Romney Campaign has been asking voters, are you better off today than you were four years ago?  Ms. Cutter answered, in part:

Lets take a look at where we are today.  From losing 3 million jobs in the six months before the President took office – we lost 800,000 jobs in the month the President took office – today we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs…by any measure the country has moved forward…

Governor O’Malley of Maryland, in his role of Obama booster answered the same question, “We are clearly better off because we’re creating jobs instead of losing them.”

Yes, the recession ended and job losses turned to job growth.  And, adding jobs certainly is better than losing jobs. 

But recessions, defined as two or more quarters of negative GDP growth, have always ended and periods of job loss have always resolved to eras of new job growth, no matter who was President.  This administration can’t be judged a success just because, like every previous recession, this one ended.  ObamaNomics should be assessed based on a comparison of the current recovery with past recoveries

The chart above shows the most recent four recession-recovery cycles.  In every previous recovery since the government began collecting jobs data from employers in 1939, job growth has resumed and the total number of jobs has surpassed the previous peak within 48 months of the beginning of the recession.  No previous recession/recovery ever has gone on this long without the number of jobs surpassing the previous peak and setting a new record. 

In month 55 we’re still 4.8 million jobs below the previous peak, set in January, 2008.  If the 2012 rate of job growth continues it will take 31 more months to create enough jobs to equal the previous record.  We’ll be in the seventh year of ObamaNomics and even then there won’t be nearly enough jobs and the unemployment rate will still be above 8% because the working age population will have grown by 18 million people, most of whom will be looking for jobs.

The question “are you better off than you were four years ago” is a bit tricky.  Even individuals who may be earning higher wages or have more accumulated wealth may not be better off if their life style is threatened by a faltering economy, looming tax increases on entrepreneurs and investors and a tsunami of new regulations including a government take-over of health care.

In any event, we’ll hear a dozen convention speakers this week bellowing the only answer the Obama team can offer, that because the recession ended we’re better off.


3 Comments so far

  1. Ancient War Horse on September 6th, 2012

    Anyone who says this country is better off is either a government employee or one of Obama’s crony capitalists still getting big checks from hard pressed taxpayers.

  2. CStephen on September 6th, 2012

    Some people are not better off. The Republicans left a historical crisis for Obama to dig us out of. But the country as a whole is better off. Obama has worked harder than any President in since FDR. We have health care, tough regulations on wall street and the banks, improved environmental standards.

  3. Manny1948 on September 6th, 2012

    In 1980 Ronald Reagan asked the country are you better off than 4 years ago and the country voted NO! In 1984 Ronald Reagan ran for a second term and the country knew we were better off. I was there, I remember. Reagan was reelected by a wide margin. It wasn’t even close

    This dumb President runs and hides when the question is asked. EVERYONE KNOWS we’re not better off. That’s why Obama’s people can’t give a straight answer to the question and have to spin like windmills (paid for with tax dollars)

    If Obama wins it won’t be because the country is better off. It will be by making promises of more taxpayer dollars to all the little groups that Democrats alwasys appeal to. the gays, the unions, the people on welfare, the green energy crooks, the education crooks, etc.