Breaking News Bar
updated: 2/12/2013 10:18 AM

Stronger U.S. economy since 1st Obama State of Union

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • In this Jan. 24, 2012 photo, President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington.

      In this Jan. 24, 2012 photo, President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington.
    Associated Press

 

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- As President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, he presides over an economy much healthier than the one he inherited four years ago. Yet growth remains slow and unemployment high.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

In early 2009, the U.S. economy was in the midst of a full-blown panic sparked by the collapse of a housing bubble. Companies were slashing jobs. The unemployment rate was surging. Auto sales in January 2009 had reached a 26-year low.

"You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis," Obama said in his first State of the Union address in February 2009.

The numbers were frightening.

Employers cut 794,000 jobs in January 2009 and 4.5 million from November 2008 through April 2009.

Home prices plunged 19 percent in the 12 months that ended in January 2009. Eventually, they fell by a third overall before bottoming in late 2011.

Perhaps the clearest barometer of the pain was soaring unemployment. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in January 2009, just below the current 7.9 percent. But only two months later, in March 2009, it was nearly a full point higher -- 8.7 percent. By October, it had peaked at 10 percent.

The recovery has been agonizingly slow. Consumers have been wary about spending after piling up debt in the mid-2000s. Local governments, squeezed by tight budgets, have cut 560,000 jobs in four years. And until recently, an anemic housing market discouraged the home construction that in past economic recoveries had powered growth.

Now, companies are hiring modestly but steadily. Employers added an average of 181,000 jobs a month in 2012 and 175,000 in 2011. Still, unemployment remains far higher than the 5 percent to 6 percent that economists regard as normal.

But home prices are finally rebounding as sales and housing starts have recovered. And Americans are buying cars again.

"During the last four years, the economy has stabilized," says economist Sung Won Sohn of California State University Channel Islands.

What has happened to the economy since 2009 likely would have happened whoever occupied the White House, Sohn says.

"We tend to give a lot of credit or blame (for the economy) to the incumbent president," he says. "The fact of the matter is, the U.S. economy is like an aircraft carrier. You can turn it around but not on a dime."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here