Patch's Poll: Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

As we head into the meat of the election season, that's the question everyone is asking. How do you feel?


With the national conventions in the rearview mirror and the election season fullly under way, both parties are asking Ronald Reagan's famed 1980 question of voters: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

In 2008, the economy was in a freefall just prior to the presidential election. While the country has technically emerged from recession, only 96,000 jobs were added in August and the national unemployment rate is still above 8 percent, according to cnn.com.

Connecticut's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in July, the latest statistics available. That was above the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent that month.

That's the big picture, but how have things changed for you on a personal level?

Take our poll and elaborate in the comments.

LiveForFreedom September 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM
When President Obama was inaugurated on January 9, 2009 gasoline was $1.89 per gallon. Check the price from the New York Times or CNN page. Here is the Consumer Reports page. http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2009/01/average-gas-pricesjanuary-26-2009.html As far as Real Estate, am I better off? Are you better off? I know dozens of Pfizer people who have not been able to sell their homes in over a year. Some are selling at a $100,000 loss. Why? Because all the $75,000 a year jobs are gone.... companies such as Pfizer have laid off thousands of employees in southeastern CT. No one is coming to Connecticut with those kind of salaries. So no one is buying those new cars, boats, making expensive home improvements, etc. Brian Mayo says he lost $320,000 on his waterfront home. How many individuals lost 20. 30 or even 40% on their 401K retirement fund? How many of your high school and college grads have found work in their field of major? How many have even found a job? So are we really better off than four years ago?
Brian Mayo September 12, 2012 at 11:12 PM
We can all hunt via Google to get gasoline prices in 2006 that lean in our favor, here's one showing $2.32/gal US national average for Jan 2006. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_were_gas_prices_on_January_2006 For shoreline CT, I really don't remember it below 2.50 Real Estate...I can say I know dozens of people that were able to purchase homes at realistic (thus affordable) prices. The real estate crash was fine for me...yes I could say I lost a couple of hundred thou in value for selling my home in Stonington, but on the flip side...since I moved to Waterford...I was able to purchase a much larger home with more land and several buildings on the lot...for a realistic price equivalent to what I sold my Stonington home for (like 485k)...instead of an inflated price of 750 or 800k. It washed off for me..just fine. Oh yeah..and a very low mortgage rate too! Mortgage rates at such lows as we've seen in recent years, great for first time home buyers...and they are taking advantage of that. Lost retirement fund? I WISH I only lost 40%....heck, I cashed in my 403k....that I built up for many years back when I worked at Mystic Seaport. I had to cash that whole thing in just over 5 years ago at the start of the crash. It was a good size too. This was pre-Obama days...putting us back in Bush days. So even though I'm historically a Republican, I can't blame Obama for that. But since the economy has started to get better, I've started building another one.
Brian Mayo September 12, 2012 at 11:14 PM
So positive attitude for me...things are on the mend, times are getting better, nest eggs are rebuilding, incomes are doing their thing. No doom and gloom! You can keep telling yourself things are horrible and the world will end...and pretty soon you'll start believing it and living it. Keep telling yourself you're sick..and lo and behold in a few months you'll probably end up chronically sick! Or you can take control of things yourself...and work on the positive end, and things end up...surprisingly...positive!
John Blutarsky September 13, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Back in the USSR
Thinkurs September 13, 2012 at 05:12 AM
LiveForFreedom - hopefully you are enlightened by now, of the last 13 years of negligence, malfeasance and incompetence and deceit by the the Republican Party, that lied to American generations, about Iraq's nuclear weapons!!Thus now we (US) become the donkey burdened with retributions, losses, pain and regret for a lifetime :-(. So, so much unaccounted borrowing to go to war!!
jane September 13, 2012 at 09:35 AM
Rick - duh - that is the effective rate after all my deductions.
jane September 13, 2012 at 09:49 AM
BJ, if you are paying 70% in taxes, my friend, then you need a new accoutant. So even if I have insurance the government is paying for my health care. Really. So, if my house is vandalized, and my homeowners insurance pays my loss it is actually the government paying it? If someone rams my car and their insurance pays for the damage, it is actually the government fixing my car? And who said anything about not wanting businesses to make a profit? Of course they need to, and I certainly encourage it. And why would I not have medical insurance? So I can be like the trash that CAN afford it but choose, instead, to let the government pay their way. Sorry - I'm a big believer in personal responsibity - those that can - should.
Rick McDonald September 13, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Jane, it was an honest question. Thank you for your condescending answer. It is answers like that that just make put less weight in your responses
Tiiu September 13, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Pfizer had a lot of internal problems which had nothing to do with the state of Connecticut. In fact, they had ten years of sweetheart deals through the TOWN of New London with tax abatements for their spectacular waterfront property, taxes that the ordinary residents of New London had to cover out of their pockets for the "privilege" of having Pfizer in their neighborhood. So in spite of all those incentives, they left anyway. So if ten years isn't long enough for these huge corporations to reap in "tax incentives" and make a go of their business, how long should we give them? By the way, I'm sure the CEO's never felt any pain.
LiveForFreedom September 13, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I have talked to many people, middle class, working class, taxpayers, unemployed, young,old, wealthy and poor. The majoriy, I repeat, the majority have said that they are NOT been better off than four years ago. So unless you are campaign workers for Obama Biden 2012, I would have to say that you are not of the opinion of the majority. This election will be a referendum on the Economy. Period.
Sandy D'Esopo September 13, 2012 at 05:03 PM
LiveforFreedom: You're probably right: most voters will probably decide based on their perception of who'll best handle the economy. That doesn't help predict whether Obama or Romney has the advantage. Trust and confidence are at issue. Obama has a record he can run on, basically the claim that were it not for his actions the economy would be even worse, that we might even be in a depression. And, the economy has been improving, but probably not enough to sway many voters his way. Romney has his business background to boast about, though many voters see him as a greedy, self-centered capitalist as ready to fire people or ship jobs overseas than create them here. I'm for Obama, but frankly I don't believe any president has a whole lot of power over the economy. So many other forces act upon it that I doubt any one segment: banks, Wall Street, politicians, the rest of the world, can make much difference.
xsailor8 September 14, 2012 at 01:05 AM
absolutely better than 4 yrs ago....investment portfolio totally recovered and on the plus side, housing equity better, employment single digits instead of double...out of iraq...no ex cheney companies profiteering from a war...american car companies recovered and showing profits...banks recovered with new banking regs...yeah who wants to go back
xsailor8 September 14, 2012 at 01:08 AM
ps. and this should make repubs happy...the reason unemployment is as high as it is is because public sector jobs havent recovered...private sector jobs are recovering faster...so we have smaller govt. but as a result higher unemloyment...
Bartlett September 14, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Don't have time to engage in a long debate. Not sure who you are hanging out with - but - the stock market today closed at its' highest level since 2007. I'm sure you will not agree - but that is a clear sign of an improving economy. Yes - better than when it crashed under President Bush. God Bless and have a great day.
LiveForFreedom September 14, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Unemployment is very high at 8.7% in Connecticut. The outlook for 2013 is not good with more budget deficit looming, As far as the stock market, the 1% who have money are investing in another soon to break bubble. The stock market is at 13,000. But it is losing steam and those who belive that it will continue to go up are the same fools who lost in 2000 and 2008. The rest of the working class people are not investing in the stock market because they do not have the money. If they do, they know it is a 'rigged casino'. The real indicator of how we are doing as a healthy economic state is the following: Unemployment rate 8.7% Unemployment rate among student graduates 28.9% Connecticut state rank for business growth - 43rd Connecticut taxes state rank - third highest in the nation Connecticut state rank for retirees - last place 50th Connecticut deficit is $185 Million according to Kevin Lembo state treasurer Connecticut Gasoline tax highest in the United States If you really think that the Economy in the state of Conecticut is healthy, you have not traveled out of the state.
jane September 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Actually, the unemployment rate in CT is 8.1. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of college grads (4 years) is 4.5%. I cannot find a 'recent' breakdown of state by state so I do not know where you got your numbers from or how recent they are. CT ranks 12th in Economic Growth from the last report by the US Dept of Commerce. CT Tax ranking: "It's true that Connecticut ranks second, after New York, in the amount of state taxes residents pay per capita -- $1,616 in 2010, the Tax Foundation estimated. But that number is misleading. Connecticut is home to many individuals and couples who are taxed at the top of the state's graduated rate. Connecticut's state taxes are sort of the middle of the pack," said Mark Robyn, a Tax Foundation economist. Example: put Bill Gates in a small CT coffee shop and the average tax rate of the people in that coffee goes way up. Works the same way when all of CT is in the equation since we have some VERY rich people living here. I think your gloom and doom outlook for the State is a bit skewed. Historically CT is one of the last states to feel a recession and one of the last to move out of one. We are moving forward at a quicker than we have in the past.
LiveForFreedom September 14, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Unemployment statistics can be found on the Economic Policy Institute website. Unemployment of high school graduates is found on Figure B. http://www.epi.org/publication/bp340-labor-market-young-graduates/ Unemployed High School Graduates (All races) Men............ 33.9% Women ........28.5% All................31.1%
LiveForFreedom September 14, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Another indicator of a bad economy is Disposable Income. The two casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun rely oin disposable income. People will not spend 'the rent money' on Casino gambling.... only the extra disposable income. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have reported decreased incomes the first and second quarter of 2012. Revenue is way down from 2008. The New London Day reported today that Both casinos experienced double-digit declines in slots revenue in July. The revenue also declined by 3.3% in August compared to 2011. Gasoline at $4.19 per gallon has hurt the travel and tourism industry as well. Another good indicator of a depressed economy is Inventories of new cars . The Best Source is Wards Automotive. http://wardsauto.com/datasheet/wardsauto-us-light-vehicle-sales-inventory-forecast-august-2012 Inventories rose from 11.92 to 14.37 Million Units from August 2011 to August 2012. This means new cars are not selling and inventories are getting bigger. Most economists say that it will take 4 to 7 years to get out of this Economic Recession.
Brian Mayo September 14, 2012 at 06:44 PM
People don't spend the rent at the casinos huh? I've seen 'n heard plenty of disasters...people getting evicted from their apartments due to not paying due to blowing their cash at those money wasting holes, and people losing their homes mortgages to them. All good stuff! I will admit I'll buy into the drop in their visitor numbers due to high gas prices capping peoples travels...I don't buy into their business having anything to do with a barometer on the economy otherwise. People that turn into zombies pumping their life savings, retirements, kids college funds, etc... into those slot machines until they're broke are not good measurements of the economy.
Brian Mayo September 14, 2012 at 06:45 PM
All these people with "doom and gloom"....how do you get up each morning? Wow!
LiveForFreedom September 14, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I do not sugar coat what reality is ... things are not well. If you look at things in terms capital gains in the stock market, you are not looking at the whole picture. The middle class, the working class, the people who are working two or three jobs, the family struggling to make college payments for their student, the people who are self employed will tell you what is wrong with the Economy. It is not about gloom and doom.... it is about reality. Democrat Joe Courtney is having a roundtable in southeastern where he is looking at ideas on how to stimulate the economy, provide jobs for the unemployed and lower the high unemployment rate in Connecticut. If you are doing well, then you are successful, very wealthy and able to pay more in taxes. After the election when the Bush era tax cuts expire, the Democrats will raise taxes on the people earning more than $250,000 per year.
LiveForFreedom September 14, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I forgot to say something for our senior citizens. For those forced into early retirement due to lay offs or unable to find a better paying job, you may want to consider moving out of Connecticut. Connecticut was ranked last.... 50th out of 50 states as the worst state to retire in by Yahoo News. State Income Tax: 3% to 6.7% State Sales Tax: 6.35% to 7% Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes Property taxes were also a factor. High property taxes are the single biggest reason retirees living on a fixed income decide to move elsewhere. "The most significant tax threat to most retirees is the property tax because it is based on the value of your home and bears no direct relation to your income." http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-least-tax-friendly-states-for-retirees.html;_ylt=Am2hJwq4hrzBu.CAByKiGaSiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTRmZDdncXE5BG1pdANGUCBGb2N1cyBvbiBMaWZlbG9uZyBJbnZlc3RpbmcEcGtnAzc1NjRlOGEwLWM2NjYtMzRjZC04Y2YxLWQ3YzU2NmZlNTJlYgRwb3MDMQRzZWMDTWVkaWFTZWN0aW9uTGlzdAR2ZXIDNTI1YmIzOTMtZmRjZC0xMWUxLWJmOWMtZjIyYTYyYWNmNDkw;_ylg=X3oDMTFpNzk0NjhtBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25z;_ylv=3
Brian Mayo September 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Taxes on property also driven by towns. I moved from Stonington because I didn't like the $9,000.00 taxes annually on my .24 acres and 2,100 sq ft home. Now I'm in Wateford on 1.6 acres with a 3,600 sq ft home with 2 other buildings on my lot, and under 4 grand a year. Yet I stayed fairly close to the region because I also am small business and get up each morning, but with a positive attitude. The deficit and crash that happened 5 years ago was the result of a LONG TIME of many factors contributing to it. It will take a long time to surface from the mess. I am a firm believer that we are on the climb. I see the proof of it every day. If you wake up each day and tell yourself you are sick...or that you might have cancer...mmm...well...one day you just might wake up sick. You are what you eat, things are what you make of it. Do things to help the economy..spend a bit..when you do, spent it locally. Need business cards, call your local print guy...don't go to vista print or some overseas place. Need signs made..go locally. Use other local merchants. Keep your business local. Local farmers markets. Less Target and Walmart. We control it, not the gov't. It's up to us. You can doom 'n gloom and paint the world black, and find your world turns negative. Or you can move forward, think positive, and good things happen. It's up to each person to control their world.
Tiiu September 15, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Can't argue with that. Property taxes are the real killer--more so than income taxes--if you are lucky enough to own property. And if you don't, your rents will be high as a result.
Howard Smith September 16, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Sandy the record of Bain Capital is one of success and they have created tens of thousands of jobs here in the USA. Do a Google search and look at the names of the companies started or saved by Bain, they created wealth something the Government cannot do.Why do you disparage Capitalism? Capitalism and free markets have created the most prosperous nation on earth. We have the most upwardly mobile society on earth because of Capitalism and free markets yet you disparage the people who succeed as evil rich without any thought about how they achieved their success, no credit for hard work and long hours. The class warfare practiced by this Administration is pure Saul Alinski as his economic policy is Cloward and Piven. What can we expect for a person whose mentor was Frank Marshall Davis. Crony Capitalism as practiced by this administration is not Capitalism and Free Markets. As for the individuals who are crowing about the gains in their retirement plans, it is directly related to the Quantitative Easing I, II & III. Your money is being devalued and you do not even see it happening
Think Positive September 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Need a laugh? http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republican-vp-candidates-past-and-present/2012/08/30/232d1282-f2c2-11e1-adc6-87dfa8eff430_video.html
Think Positive September 21, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Need a laugh or 2? http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romney-unveils-his-energy-plan/2012/08/23/31fde6a4-ed88-11e1-9ddc-340d5efb1e9c_video.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romney-offers-his-opinion-on-the-47-percent/2012/09/18/c56d791c-01e8-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_video.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mitt-romney-tries-a-different-tactic-to-get-a-bounce-in-the-polls/2012/09/10/6f4060be-fba2-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_video.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romney-talks-to-his-chair/2012/08/31/7c6d17e8-f38f-11e1-adc6-87dfa8eff430_video.html
Think Positive September 21, 2012 at 07:34 PM
But wait, there's more. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romney-dances-around-ryan-budget/2012/08/14/d4d92b7e-e66a-11e1-8741-940e3f6dbf48_video.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/justice-scalia-vents/2012/09/20/5cf4498a-0376-11e2-8102-ebee9c66e190_video.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q26rwoY4fFc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38GB2hf8iFo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6yQudb8xes (this one is really funny) http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-september-18-2012/the-millionaire-gaffemaker
Virginia Abernathy September 21, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I'm better off today. I have a better paying job and better benefits. I worked hard and got my Master's in accounting and it paid off. It took a bit to find my current job and I took crappy jobs in the meantime and even collected unemployment for 2 months but I never gave up.
Think Positive September 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Remember, it’s only a handout when it benefits someone else. If it benefits you then you’ve obviously “earned it”.


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