Are you better off than you were two years ago?

If the prognosticators are correct, the U.S. House will swing to the Republicans tomorrow amid an anger that things haven’t improved in the country the way many voters expected. What we don’t have, however, is a yardstick for measuring success/failure.

Here’s an example comparing several categories from this time in 2008 to today. Feel free to suggest additional categories.

Category 2008 2010
Minnesota unemployment rate 5.6% 7.0%
Number of unemployed people (nationwide) 9,199,000 14,140,000
Number of Minnesota people with jobs 2,784,286 2,749,000
Per capita national debt $34,278 $44,196
30-year mortgage rate 6.17% 4.65%
Minnesota rate of foreclosure 1 in every 1,065 homes 1 in every 690 homes
Price of gasoline (Minnesota) $2.31 $2.84
Soldiers killed in action in previous month (Iraq & Afghanistan) 30 52
Vikings record 4-3 2-5
Top Minnesota search terms on Google (News category) Obama CNN
Big three cars sold (September) 493,000 433,483

What numbers should be in place for 2012 to help us judge whether things are better (or worse) than we’d hoped?

  • Bob Moffitt

    Other than this asthma that made me sick for a month, yes, I am doing better.

    Thanks for asking.

    However,I don’t look to elected officials to give me a job, a raise, cheap gas, a winning sports team.

    I look for leaders who will do their best in troubled times.

  • bsimon

    In 2012, good metrics to use are:

    personal income growth (i.e. are wages going up, down, or remaining stagnant?)

    personal savings rate (i.e. are we saving, and have a positive rate, borrowing & have a negative rate, or just getting by, with minimal savings & minimal borrowing?)

    And, why on earth do people need google to find CNN? I must be missing something.

  • MR

    If I remember right, one of the most popular things to search Yahoo for was Google, and vice-versa.

    In answer to the above question? I still have a job, I took advantage of low mortgage rates and a depressed housing market to buy a house, and aside from throwing things at the political ads on my TV, I’m doing fine.

  • John P.

    As a member of the non-rich, my income has not changed in real terms since the ’80′s, so I am not much better or worse off than I was during the Reagan Administration.

    Since I have always been employed, sometimes I wonder why I care about what party runs the country; it doesn’t seem to matter to me from an economic perspective.

  • Kassie

    Ignoring the fact I’m going through a divorce, which makes me very much worse off, I’m still worse off. My income has not changed in two years. My taxes have gone up, as have my health care costs, and the expected equity I thought my house would have is really a $20k defiency between what I owe and what the house is worth.

  • Pessimistic Democrat

    Here’s a number that should make investors feel better off – EVERY Vanguard mutual fund, without exception, shows a positive return year-to-date for 2010. So, if you are part of the 1% of the populace getting 23.5% of the U. S. total income (figures as of 2007), you are probably MUCH better off.

    If you are part of the other 99% of the populace, you might want to ask yourself – do I want to vote for the Republicans who want to maintain the Bush tax cuts, eliminate the estate tax, leave defense, Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the national debt untouched, and yet somehow rein in government spending? Perhaps they can save a billion or two by eliminating regulatory agencies, since Wall Street and the petroleum industry have demonstrated how well they can regulate themselves.

  • Cara

    I’m better off, even though I lost my home to foreclosure in April 2009. My personal income has increased enough to make paying rent and expenses easy.