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The Audacity of Reality: Obama's Stress Index

Press Release

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President Obama's "Stress" = President Carter's "Malaise":
Yesterday, President Obama Said Americans Are "Stressed Out." Obama: "There's no doubt America is stressed out." ("Obama To WSB-TV: America Is Stressed Out," WSB-TV, 7/14/11)

Exactly Thirty-Two Years Ago Today, President Jimmy Carter Delivered His "Malaise" Speech, Bemoaning The "Crisis Of Confidence" That Had Set Upon America. CARTER: "This is a special night for me. Exactly three years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of my party to run for president of the United States. I promised you a president who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain, and who shares your dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you. … I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law -- and I have to admit, with just mixed success. … I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy. … The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. … The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America." (President Jimmy Carter, Remarks At The White House, 7/15/79)

Americans Are Stressed About The Obama Economy:

National Unemployment Increased To 9.2% In June And Nearly 550,000 Americans Have Joined The Unemployment Rolls Since March. "Nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in June (+18,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.2 percent … Since March, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 545,000, and the unemployment rate has risen by 0.4 percentage point." (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Press Release, 7/8/11)

Almost 45% Of Unemployed Americans Have Been Out Of Work For Six Months Or Longer. "The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was essentially unchanged over the month, at 6.3 million, and accounted for 44.4 percent of the unemployed." (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Press Release, 7/8/11)

The Average Duration Of Unemployment Has Doubled Under President Obama. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average duration of unemployment was 19.9 weeks in January 2009. By June of 2011, the average duration had increased to 39.9 weeks. (Bureau of Labor Statistics,, 7/8/11)

The Unemployment Rate For Recent College Graduates Between The Ages Of 20-24 Is 14.5%, Up By 80% From Four Years Ago. "Another telling indicator is joblessness among recent college graduates between the ages of 20 and 24, according to Daniel Aaronson, director of microeconomic research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The rate climbed to 14.5 percent in June from 8 percent four years ago…" (Vivien Lou Chen, "Fed Data Cruncher Finding No New Normal Unemployment Nationwide," Bloomberg, 7/10/11)

Over Eight And A Half Million Americans Are Working Part-Time To Make Ends Meet. "The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in June at 8.6 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job." (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Press Release, 7/8/11)

Retail Gas Prices Are Nearly Twice As High As When President Obama Took Office. According to AAA, the average retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.65 on July 14, 2011. For the week of January 20, 2009, the average retail price was $1.84. ("AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report,", Accessed 7/14/11)

Home Prices Have Fallen Under President Obama. The Case-Shiller National Home Price Index (a quarterly gauge of single-family home prices) was at 131.72 in the first quarter of 2009. The index rose as high as 137.75 in 2010 before falling again to 128.29 in the first quarter of 2011 -- a lower level than when President Obama took office. (S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices,, Accessed 7/3/11)

Bank-Owned Distressed Sales Now Comprise Over 30% Of The Real Estate Market. "Before the housing collapse, the number of distressed sales historically made up a small percentage of the market. In the first half of 2011, however, bank-owned homes represented more than 30 percent of total sales, which is far above pre-2006 levels of less than 5 percent, according to Clear Capital. … In 2010 there were 1.7 million distressed sales, up from an average of 450,000 per year during the pre-collapse period from 2000 to 2005…" (Venessa Wong, "Real Estate Forecast: Home Prices Limp Into 2012," BusinessWeek, 7/8/11)

Small Business Owners Are Also Feeling The Stress Of The Obama Economy:

June 2011: A Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council Report Found That Nearly 40% Of Small Business Owners Experienced Higher Stress Levels In The Prior Three Months. "The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council released recently "Entrepreneurs and the Economy: Small Business Trends, Issues and Outlook' -- a survey which finds widespread dissatisfaction with federal economic policies among small business owners. … The survey found that stress levels went down for only 13 percent of small business owners "when thinking about their business finances currently,' compared to the past three months. It was "about the same' for 47 percent of business owners, while stress levels increased for 39 percent." (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Press Release, 6/1/11)

The Survey Also Found That Only 30% Of Small Business Owners Believe Their Finances Will Improve Over The Next Six Months. "In terms of their outlook for their business, 49 percent of small business owners believe their finances will stay the same over the next six months, 18 percent believe they will get worse while 30 percent believe their financial conditions will get better." (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Press Release, 6/1/11)

President Obama Has Failed To Focus On The Economy:

At Last Week's "Twitter Town Hall," President Obama Said He "Did Not Realize The Magnitude" Of The Economic Crisis As He Assumed The Presidency. OBAMA: "One would have been to explain to the American people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this. I think even I did not realize the magnitude, because most economists didn't realize the magnitude, of the recession until fairly far into it, maybe two or three months into my presidency where we started realizing that we had lost 4 million jobs before I was even sworn in." (President Barack Obama, Remarks In Washington, DC, 7/6/11)

President Obama Also Acknowledged That He Failed To Recognize The Scope Of The Nation's Housing Crisis. "President Obama made a rare admission of a policy misstep Wednesday, acknowledging that his administration failed to provide enough support to struggling homeowners and recognize the scope of the nation's housing crisis. Despite predictions by Obama's advisers that the housing market would rebound by now, real estate prices are falling once again. And the administration's efforts to push banks to modify the mortgages of families who missed their monthly payments have been widely criticized as lacking." (Peter Wallsten and Cecilia Kang, "At Twitter Town Hall, Obama Concedes "Not Enough' Done To Address Housing Crisis," The Washington Post, 7/6/11)

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