Are You Better off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago? Short Answer: Yes

s we get closer to the election and closer to President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, one question that has been posed by nominee Mitt Romney and other prominent Republicans is whether or not you, as an American, are better off now than you were four years ago.

The short answer is yes.

While your personal situation may or may not be better now than it was in September 2008, as a country we’re all doing better and the average person is doing better than they were then. Based on numbers comparing the fourth fiscal quarter of 2008 to the second fiscal quarter of 2012, we can accurately gauge how well the country is doing.

Menzie Chinn, an economist and professor at Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, performed some quantitative analyses about the economy to find out the answer to this question and based on a number of categories. He looked at aggregate measures of activity and income, consumption and household net worth, the private sector and even the effect of the stimulus.

His final chart may be of particular interest to Detroiters. Chinn looked at how the auto industry has fared since Mitt Romney’s “let Detroit go bankrupt” strategy was proposed. (Note: that is not only a direct quote, it’s the title of the New York Times op-ed piece Romney wrote encouraging Congress not to support a bailout of the big three car manufacturers, saying it would virtually guarantee the auto industry’s demise.)


According to Chinn’s findings, production of vehicles is now 40 percent higher than it was in 2008 and consumption is significantly higher as well.

Also of note was that, broadly speaking, the only group of people who have not done better after four years of President Obama were government employees and those who “received services from government workers or learned from public school teachers.”

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