The Reagan Question: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Eight Years Ago?

 

September 2008

John Schmitt and Hye Jin Rho

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/2000-2008:-are-you-better-off/

 

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In his closing remarks during the final presidential debate of 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

The table below updates Reagan's question by comparing the state of the economy in 2000 and 2008. We use 25 indicators of economic well-being and economic performance and find that 23 of the 25 indicators are worse in 2008 than they were in 2000.  Click here for a list of the sources used.

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 Economic Indicator

 2000

 2008

 Unemployment rate

 Image4.0%

 6.1%

 Inflation rate

 Image3.3%

 5.4%

 Job Growth (preceding 8 years)

 

 

    Total nonfarm employment

 Image21.4%

4.3%

    Private sector employment

 Image23.6%

3.6%

    Manufacturing employment

 Image2.9%

-22.2%

 Employment rate (% of population)

 

 

    All, age 16 and older

 Image64.4%

62.6%

    Men, age 16 and older

 Image71.9%

69.1%

    Women, age 16 and older

 Image57.5%

56.5%

 Real wage growth (preceding 8 years)

 Image8.2%

1.8%

 Minimum wage (July 2008$)

 Image$6.58

$6.55

 Family income

 

 

    Median, 2007$

 $61,083

Image$61,355 

    Growth (preceding 8 years)

 Image14.7%

0.4%

 Poverty

 

 

    Rate (% of population)

 Image11.3%

12.5%

    People in poverty (millions)

 Image31.6

 37.3

 Uninsured (health insurance)

 

 

    Rate (% of population)

 Image14.0%

 15.3%

    People without insurance  (millions)

 Image38.7

45.7

 Personal savings (% of disposable income)

 Image2.3%

0.6%

 College tuition (average per year, 2007$)

 

 

    Private four-year college

 Image$19,337

 $23,712

    Public four-year college

 Image$4,221

$6,185

 Gasoline (gallon, 2008$)

 Image$2.03

$4.09

 GDP growth (preceding 8 years)

 Image34.2%

19.6%

 Productivity growth (preceding 8 years)

 15.9%

Image21.9% 

 Trade balance (% of GDP)

 Image-3.9%

 -5.1%

 Federal debt (% of GDP)

 Image57.3%

65.5%

 Net foreign debt (% of GDP)

 Image13.6%

17.9%