The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Alan Barber (202) 293-5380 x115

Are You Better Off in 2008 Than You Were in 2000?

23 out of 25 selected economic indicators worse now than 8 years ago


the final presidential debate of the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan,
running against Jimmy Carter, turned to the camera and asked "Are you
better off than you were four years ago?" The debate took place against
a backdrop of spiraling inflation and rising unemployment. A week
later, Reagan won the election by one of the largest margins in recent
history. Now, with the 2008 presidential election just weeks away and
the economy once again in turmoil, a new report from the Center for
Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) updates the Reagan question by
comparing economic indicators in 2008 and 2000, and finds that most
indicators suggest that voters are worse off now than they were eight
years ago.

The report, "The Reagan Question: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Eight Years Ago?," uses a range of economic indicators to give voters a basis of comparison of their sense economic well-being.

"The data seem to suggest that voters are worse off today than 8 years ago," said report author John Schmitt. "It is hard to see how voters could answer Reagan's question any other way."

The study finds that 23 out of 25 indicators are worse in 2008 than
they were in 2000. Some of the indicators examined included the
unemployment rate, annual inflation, the "Misery Index" (the sum of the
the unemployment rate and the inflation rate), job growth, wage growth,
the poverty rate, the number of uninsured, college tuition costs, and
gasoline prices. Of these, only inflation-adjusted median family income
and productivity growth were higher in 2008 than they were in 2000.

For an opportunity to discuss and comment on the findings of the report in an online forum, please see our interactive webpage. That page also has links to the resources used to produce indicators and related material.

The full report can be found here.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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