Are Americans Better Off Today?

Americans do not rate their personal finances any better –or worse – than they did when Barack Obama took office nearly four years ago. And while income is a major factor in people's views of their personal finances, so too is their partisan affiliation.

The Pew Research Center has been tracking personal financial well-being for years. The trend since 2007 helps explain why the Obama and Romney campaigns talk about this issue in such different terms. On the one hand, Americans are clearly feeling more pinched than they were before the recession began. The Pew Research Center's November 2007 survey found 50% saying they were in excellent or good shape financially. In June of this year, 41% rated their personal finances as excellent or good.

However, most of the decline in positive views occurred before Obama took office; there has been little change since then. Between November 2007 and December 2008 the share of Americans who said they were in good financial shape fell 12 points to just 38%, and has neither improved nor worsened substantially over the past three-and-a-half years.

Read the full report, Americans Feel No Better or Worse Off in the Obama Years; Politics Colors Views of Recession's Toll, on the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends project website.