So how has the country been doing during President Obama’s term in office? Here’s a scattering of indicators and how they’ve changed from 2008 (the last year of the Bush presidency) to now:
- Unemployment rate (U3): DOWN from 5.8 percent to 4.7 percent.
- Underemployment rate (U6): DOWN from 10.6 percent to 9.6 percent.
- Violent crime rate (per 100,000 residents): DOWN from 459 to 366.
- Fear of crime: DOWN from 37 percent to 35 percent.
- Uninsured rate: DOWN from 19.7 percent to 10.3 percent.
- Number of illegal immigrants: DOWN from 11.8 million to 11.3 million.
- Illegal immigrants from Mexico: DOWN from 6.6 million to 5.6 million.
- Teen pregnancy rate (per thousand females): DOWN from 40 to 25.
- Current account balance (trade deficit): DOWN from 4.6 percent of GDP to 2.3 percent of GDP.
- American war deaths: DOWN from 469 to 28.
- Inflation rate: DOWN from 3.8 percent to 1.1 percent.
- Shootings of police officers: DOWN from 149 to 120.
- Abortion rate (per thousand women): DOWN from 19 to 16.9 (through 2011).
- Federal deficit: DOWN from 3.1 percent of GDP to 2.5 percent of GDP.
- Drug abuse: DOWN from 22.4 million to 21.6 million (through 2013).
- Drug abuse among teenagers: DOWN from 7.7 million to 5.2 million (through 2013).
- Household debt (as percent of disposable income): DOWN from 12.8 percent to 10 percent.
- Public high school graduation rate: UP from 74 percent to 82 percent (through 2013).
I’m not presenting this stuff because I think it will change anyone’s mind. Nor because Obama necessarily deserves credit for all of them. You can decide that for yourself. It’s mostly just to get it on the record. And it’s worth noting that none of this may matter in the face of two other statistics that might be more important than all the rest put together:
- Median household income: DOWN from $55,313 to $53,657 (through (2014).
- Americans killed in terror attacks: UP from 14 to 50+ (so far in 2016).
If you measure household income more broadly, it looks better than the raw Census figures. And household income has finally started increasing over the past couple of years. On the terror front, the absolute number of American fatalities from terrorist attacks is obviously very small. Still, the number of brutal attacks in the US and Europe (the only ones Americans care about) has obviously spiked considerably over the past year.
Are these two things enough to outweigh everything else? Maybe. Come back in November and I’ll tell you.