Are you better off?

During today’s 9 a.m. in-depth on The Daily Circuit, we’re asking the question: Do you think you are better off than you were four years ago? What parts of your life do you take into account when you answer that question? And do you think of it as being personally better off or the larger picture of your friends, family and community?

This question came from Ronald Reagan’s comments during the 1980 debate. Watch it here:

-Emily Kaiser, associate digital producer

  • Laurie Allmann

    Yes, we are better off than we were four years ago. Four years ago the economy was in free fall due to the lack of needed regulation of the banking industry, Bush administration rhetoric and policies were making enemies around the world for American children, and the health insurance industry was holding policy holders hostage. Now there is less fear, more hope.

  • Mark H.

    I think that neither candidate has really addressed the fundamental societal changes that happened as a result of the recession. People’s attitudes to employment, spending, and basic stability have all gone through a major shift.

  • I am a retiree who four years ago saw my investments nose dive,but those investments have come back in the last 4 years.Healthcare is a continuing anxiety as one gets older. My big concern today is Medicare and what will happen if big changes are made. I believe that the reverse question should be asked, where would we be today if we had chosen austerity?

  • Gayle

    Yes, I am definitely better off than four years ago. I was laid off in summer 2008 from a job in an industry that was undergoing a major contraction during that timeframe. With the help of Minnesota DEED’s dislocated worker’s program, I got help with grad school tuition, earned a master’s degree in a new field and secured a good job that I’ve been in for almost two years. Our household’s investments have come back from their 2008/2009 decline, too.

  • RF

    My 401k is.

  • Maggie

    Husband’s income is up; investments are up; anxiety is high because the investment market is highly erratic especially for retirees (me) or near-retirees (husband) and the small company which my husband manages has been teetering on the brink of extinction due to uncertainties in the marketplace. Our house value is uncertain but property taxes have skyrocketed. The costs of daily living have also increased dramatically. So I would say it is a decidely mixed picture with a heavy overlay of anxiety.

  • Jennie

    Absolutely better off. My husband works for a small business (

  • Joe in Minneapolis

    Of course I and most everyone else I know are all better off than we were 4 years ago. At the end of 2008 I & everyone else honestly thought we may very well be about to be laid off and shut out of the working world indefinitely. It was a veritable jobs crisis panic state. For too many of us that fear came (at a rate of 700k jobs in the month Obama tok office) & it stayed true for much too long. The economy may be stalled today, but it is no longer in that terrifying free-fall of ’08. The fact of that economic improvement is one we all should conscciously recognize whenever we are asked if we are better off today than we were 4 years ago.

  • Jennifer

    I think we need to hear more discussion about the businesses’ responsibility in the economy. Many are mismanaged and/or more interested in executive and shareholder profits. There is very little effort on the part of many businesses to constructively contribute to the success of the American economy, their community or their employees either through greed or just poor business sense.

    I was laid off in June but my husband and I are better off. He wasn’t working the last few years but is now employed and making more than I was when I was employed. My lay off has nothing to do with the economy or what lawmakers have done. It was due to the incompetence of the owners of the company I worked for. I believe that this is the case in many lay offs. Yes, the economy does affect many businesses but there are often other solutions to lay offs.

  • Jennie

    Absolutely better off. My husband works for a small business (

  • Terry Dinovo

    I think the question may be at the root of much of our problems in our society. Its all about “ME.” Perhaps a better question would be, “Are my neighbors better off?”

    We are individuals who are part of a community. We will all be better off when all of us are doing better.

  • Gail

    No, we are not better off. Not because of the bad economy, but because ironically, my husband and I have had our highest earning years during the downturn. We aren’t better off now because we were never not doing well. We absolutely felt no effect of the downturn and in fact, profited from it due to some astute investments when the stock market and the housing markets were at their lowest. The reason we were able to do this is because we have good skills and we’ve always managed our money very well during good times and bad.

  • Cindy Sundberg

    The question should not be whether or not we are better off today than four years ago, but should be “What have YOU done to make (yourself, your world, your relationships, your job, your finances, your integrity) better in the past four years?

    If the answer is “Nothing”, do not blame the president of the country.

    If the answer is “I tried, but no, I am not better off”, then ask if that is the result of presidential actions or congressional inactions.

    Let’s quit being so superficial and start digging deeper for the answers to the problems that best the nation and the individuals of the nation. To ask “Are you better off now than four years ago?” is a cheap way to not have discourse over the issue. It begs a Yes or No answer without any nuanced thought or responsibility.

  • Paul – Duluth, MN

    I am better off than I was four years ago, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the government or the economy. I worked a full-time retail job while attending and finishing a full-time 2-year college. I now have a career instead of a job, repaired a damaged credit history, and increased confidence about my future. But this is all from individual determination and hard work. However, the government is NOT better than it was four years ago. It has been relatively unchanged in areas where it NEEDS to be changed, and until EVERYONE is working and paying taxes, health care is provided by the government, and education is toned-down to keep children engaged and learning, the government will get a big, fat “F”.