4 years ago, was America in a better or worse position than we are in today? Let’s be very clear that I am not talking about anyone’s condition suffered under a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy or any other individual tragedies like a house fire or the loss of a relative. None of these folk will ever be better off.
What I am talking about is are you better off after surviving the most destructive, policy-inspired, man-made disaster and financial tragedy in memory which culminated in 2008?
I believe I can partially answer this burning question by using 18 points of comparative data. I chose these specific 18 measures because they were important to me. Others may have chosen different sets do data; however my goal will be to use the same 18 measures until January 2013.
Last month I compared where we were – September 2012 to the same period in 2008. Please refer to my earlier post and use as a reference. Today I will revise my data to reflect the period covering the full month of October 2012 and October 2008.
The information I am sourcing is available in numerous places which are all publicly available. It seems most logical to use the sources that are fact-based and non-partisan; especially since these sources tend to be used by both political parties when the news favors their positions.
The test: Is America better off on November 1, 2012 than it was on November 1, 2008?
You be the judge.
Let’s look at 18 data sets I like to call, facts.
1. Stock Market close
2. Monthly job losses
3. Price of a gallon of gas
4. Price of a barrel of oil
5. Personal Savings rate
6. Mortgage Interest Rate
7. Number of troops injured/killed in Iraq
8. Value of dollar to euro
9. New Business Start-ups
10. Unemployment Rate
11. Number of net new jobs created full year (2008 and YTD 2012)
12. Average Hourly Wage
13. Inflation Rate
14. Housing Starts
15. Americans With Health Insurance
16. Illegal Border Crossing Arrests
17. Tax Rates – Capital/Dividend/Personal/Corporate
18. Middle-Class -Small Business Tax Rates
In the immortal words of Joe Friday : “… just the facts”.
(1) S&P 500 / Dow Industrial Average monthly close (Full month October).
10/31/2012; 1412 / 13,096
10/31/2008; 1253 / 9,465
Better or worse in 2012? Better. Your 401k, pensions, and capital investments have made 40% more money. This is much better than the value of your investments at the end of 2008 when they lost over 50% of their value. You are doing much better in 2012. Period.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? 35-40% Better.
(2) Monthly job +gains/losses
October 2012; +174,000
October 2008; – 496,000
Better or worse in 2012? Better
Percentage better or worse in 2012? OMG% Better.
(3) Price of a gallon of gas.
Better or worse in 2012? Worse for consumers and businesses but good for the gas industry. The US government does not own a gas station or a refinery so all price fluctuations related to gas prices are based on free-market principles and our capitalism. The state taxes related to gas prices are the same percentage in 2012 as they were in 2008. Higher prices are simply a function of what the market will bear. If the public wants lower prices they have to make their case to the for-profit industry not the government.
Percentage better or worse in 2012 ? 30% worse.
(4) Price of a barrel of oil – Cushings OK Crude Oil Futures.
Better or worse in 2012? Better for America since America importing less foreign oil yet exporting more to international markets. Unfortunately because the global market is paying more, American consumers are paying more at the pump. What s really happening oil price speculation is what is driving up a lot of the cost at the pump. This is how capitalism works. At least the oil and gas industry is making lots of money even as consumers finance the profits through higher gas prices.
(5) Personal Savings Rate.
October 2012; 3.3%
October 2008; 3%
Better or worse in 2012? Better. Even though consumer spending represents 75%” of our economy, saving is smart for the long term fiscal sustainability of American families.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? +10% Better.
(6) Mortgage Interest Rate.
Better or worse than 2012? Better. If you have a job and you can qualify for a home loan, you’re going to save a lot of money in 2012. This is good for your family and the economy. You can either save more money or you can use the monthly mortgage savings to invest in something you want or need like a new business, college tuition or some other important expense. This is a very positive benefit for many Americans on 2012.
Percentage better in 2012? 90% Better.
(7) Number of US Troops killed in Iraq.
October 2012; 0
October 2008; 14
Better or worse in 2012? Better. A soldiers life is something we as a nation must value above all else.
Percentage better than 200? Infiniti better if you ask a soldier or their family.
(8) Value of US dollar to Euro.
Better or worse in 2012? Almost the same.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? Similar%.
(9) New Business Start-ups.
11/1/2012; 9.2% of businesses – 603,000 (First 10 months of 2012)
11/1/2008; 10.1% of businesses – 626,000 (Full year actual for 2008)
Better worse in 2012? Worse. With 2 more months to go in 2012 and the economy improving not shrinking, the trend for new business growth is positive not negative.
Percentage better or worse over 2008? 3% Worse, but trending more positive than negative.
(10) Unemployment Rate.
October 2012; 7.9%
October 2008; 6.5%
Better or worse in 2012? Unfortunately the job losses in September 2008 were 415,000. They got worse in October 2008 when they hit 496,000 job losses. In November 2008 – January 2009, over 1.5 million more jobs will be lost. By the end of 2009, the unemployment rate would exceed 10% The unemployment rate was trending upwards in October 2008 while it appears to be trending downwards as of October 2012.
(11). Number of net new jobs created.
Jan. 2009 – 10/31/2012; Gross – 5.4 million; net + 568,000
Jan. 2000 – 10/31/2008; Gross – 3.8 million; net -1.1 million
Better or worse in 2012? Better. America had zero net new jobs at the end of 8 years from 2000-2008. This performance was the worst job production in the last 40 years in America. Since 2009, over 4.8 million jobs were lost however over 5.4 million jobs were created. Today, there are more than 568,000 more Americans working. There are 3 more months of job creation numbers remaining under the current administration. The jobs numbers are trending positive for the remaining 3 months however Hurricane Sandy will have an impact.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? Significantly Better.
(12) Average Hourly Wage -Non-Farm Payroll.
Better or worse in 2012? Better
Percentage better or worse in 2012? 10%, Better.
(13) Inflation Rate.
Better or worse in 2012? Better. Lower inflation means lower consumer costs. Your money goes further.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? +90%, Better.
(14) Housing Starts.
Better or worse in 2012? Better. For many, housing growth is a bell-weather indicator since so many industries benefit from land-acquisition to the construction of buildings and the manufacturing of equipment. If this calculus is accurate, increased housing starts may lead to a positive economic trend as long as the crazy derivative markets and crazy financing does not return.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? 60% Better.
(15) Americans Insured/Uninsured.
2011; 48.6 Million / 15.3% of Americans Uninsured
2008; 50.0 Million / 16.7% of Americans Uninsured
Better or worse in 2012? Better. We do not have the numbers for 2012 as of 11/1/2012. I expect to have them by January 2013. Yet based on 2011 and the trend from 2010-2011, The Kaiser Foundation is projected the trend to continue into 2012.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? 5% Better.
(16) Illegal Border Crossing Apprehensions
YTD through 2012; 218,000
Full Year. 2011; 327,577
Full Year. 2010; 396,906
Full Year 2009; 516,992
Full Year 2008; 1,100,000
Better or worse in 2012? Better. Fewer illegals are attempting to cross as the border has been hardened. The nation increased the number of border patrol agents by nearly 50% over 2008. There has also been significant increases in spending related to border security infrastructure. It is harder for illegals traveling over land to get into the US. The fact that the US has a weaker economy than it did may be reducing the number of illegal immigrants however the economy is even worse in many other countries so the US would still be a major draw to anyone seeking a better life at any cost. Therefore the effectiveness of the enforcement strategy should be given a large portion of credit for the reduction in apprehensions and the illegal traffic at our borders.
The Justice department has also increased its enforcement of illegal hiring and increased the number of arrests and fines of those hiring illegals by 15% over 2008.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? Significantly Better.
(17) Capital Gain/Dividend/individual/Corporate Tax Rates over $200k in income.
11/1/2012; 15, 15, 35, 35
11/1/2008; 15, 15, 35, 35
Better or worse in 2012? Same; however some small businesses have seen tax cuts and tax deductions related to equipment and exports.
Percentage better or worse in 2012? Same.
(18). Additional Middle-Class & Small Business Tax Rates and Equipment Deductions
11/1/2012; Numerous tax rate cuts and expansion of depreciation credits
11/1/2008; Accelerated Depreciation on specific Equipment capped at $100k
Better or worse in 2012? Better?
Percentage better or worse in 2012? There are many new cuts and deductions so it was difficult to quantify specific percentages. It is estimated the savings average 6% or $3,500 per family.
I see a lot of BETTER in these facts. You should go online and check multiple sources to verify these facts for yourselves.
It is hard to dispute the fact that America is doing better in 2012 than we were in 2008. We must keep in mind that the months that followed those shown above in 2008, (November 08 -January 09), produced results so negative, they plunged the nation into the largest and deepest recession since the Great Depression in the 30’s. In other words, 2008 got even worse than what is shown above.
It is reasonable to look at the aforementioned data and acknowledge these data points do not represent every measurable economic item; however the list is still a very powerful representation of items that do impact the economic lives of all Americans. It is also reasonable to acknowledge that not every-single American is impacted equally by these data points. Some millionaires have lost money over this period; some poor people have gotten poorer; some skinny people have gained weight. The point is this data may not impact every-single American the same yet I can say with confidence the data does impact a super-majority of Americans. Therefore we can use this data to draw useful conclusions.
Americans are very smart people and we tend to make excellent decisions when armed with the facts. Well, my fellow Americans, let me introduce you to a friend I like to call, THE FACTS . Now that the two of you have met, what is your opinion of what you have learned?
Is America (are Americans) better off in November 2012 ( of course we are not talking about those devasted by the recent hurricane) than America (Americans) was/were in November 2008?
You be the judge.
Now that you know, if anyone asks you THE QUESTION you should be able to answer the question with a resounding, YES!
Let me know if you want me to compare and contrast December 2008/2012 – January 2009 as well.