Are You Better Off?

One of the major themes of this year’s election is the economy, with the Republican party asking the electorate if they are better off than 4 years ago, when President Obama was elected. I’ve also been following a series in the NY Times which is discussing the state of the middle class in the US today. In a follow up blog post, the author highlighted selected comments from that post:

“Most of the income gains seen in my lifetime have been created by families going on afterburners — sending the other adult out to work. Now, we are seeing families going backwards, but that may be a good thing. But we will need to learn to get by on less, especially if competition by foreign workers accelerates.” – jstewart58

“Interesting that this appears on the same page as the article about Caterpillar. Is it really necessary for them to freeze wages when they are making record profits? You can bet that the upper echelon of company officers will not have frozen wages. There are many hard issues that contribute to the problem, global wage competition, automation, poor education, but these are exacerbated by actions taken by companies like Caterpillar.” – Oh Please

“Since WWII, the idea that one is solely responsible for their own success has widely taken root and the generations since have increasingly failed to acknowledge that success is the product of both individual initiative/hard work AND opportunity. The first generation that had the privilege of combining hard work with unprecedented levels of opportunity was the baby boomers and, speaking very generally, they seemed to forget the opportunity component as they rose through the professional ranks of business and government. This explains policies that reward the haves while eroding the opportunity (education, health care, higher minimum wages, pensions) that allows have-nots to use their individual initiative to pull themselves out of the lower classes.” – Dan

“The uncomfortable truth is that America’s economy has progressed beyond blue collar jobs and is now a service economy. Our biggest export is knowledge (in the form of technology, patents, business, etc), and is no longer ‘stuff.’ So it is slightly misguided to blame manufacturing companies that don’t pay workers higher wages, because these companies are no longer in industries where their workers can demand a premium.”– Austin

“Tax cuts for the rich have turbocharged inequality, beginning with Reagan and culminating with Bush II. To afford these tax cuts, we’ve cut everything else that helps the middle class, especially really great public schools.”– Carol

Honestly, speaking it’s a mixed bag for me. I am better off than I was 4 years ago because I got laid off in February 2009, worked contract for about a year and have been full time at my current employer for a year (after being a contractor there for a year). I got married which added a wonderful husband and an additional income to my household. But, the value of my house is upside down and there are additional expenses that must now be paid. It’s been difficult to save money, this year in particular. But I know so many people who are so much worse off that I feel I shouldn’t complain.

How about you and your family? Are you better or worse off than you were 4 years ago? Do you agree with the commentators from the article?

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3 thoughts on “Are You Better Off?

  1. I am better off than I was 4 years ago. Before I left CA I received continuous promotions and cost of living increases but it was very tough to make ends meet in CA.

    I made moves to make sure I was in a better position by enrolling in a Masters Program and moving to Texas. I took a pay cut at my current position but my take home pay is slightly higher than it was in CA due to the differences in taxes. My dollar goes much further here and my honey and I moved together so we have the benefit of dual income. We will be able to buy in the near future in TX when it wasn’t an option in CA. I’ve not noticed a lack of job opportunities in my field or my honey’s field so I can’t really speak to that but I do know it is darn near impossible for some people to find work.

    I think the nation as a whole is better off but we still have work to do.

  2. Am I better off? Yes and no. In the last 3 years I’ve had good raises except for this year and because of the state of the economy I don’t feel as secure in my job. However, I don’t feel that my lack of job security can be blamed on Obama. It has to do with the economy, less government spending (I’m a government contractor) and the rising cost of services, goods etc (that’s inflation). I do however feel that my family is better off in a way. My sister can remain on my parent’s insurance after her college graduation which is great. My parents are all gainfully employed and they have some job security. I’m worried about their social security because they don’t have a pension and didn’t start a 401K until much later in life. That means I need to start thinking about their future and will need to start saving for them and still maintain my own retirement savings.

  3. Well, I’m better than I was 4 years ago, notwithstanding that I got laid off a month ago. With that said, when economy was in the downturn, I made some cuts, I got a roomate, this helped me safe more. Also, my 401k in the last 3 years has been seeing an upward trend.

    As one of the commenters stated, the country has moved from industrial to services, this means people will have to be re-trained. My former company had a client that is the business of green energy in Colorado area, they hired a few folks in the automobile and offered classes in green energy because some of their skills were transferable.

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