The economy has improved substantially in the last seven years during the Obama administration.
Yet two-thirds of Americans still think the country is on the wrong track. And Donald Trump’s message that the American dream is dead has resonated with many Americans.
“Some people are still recovering from the trauma of what happened in 2007-2008. You know, we went through a really scary time. It was the fastest contraction that we've seen even before the Great Depression. By some measures the economy contracted faster and saw a steeper decline than you saw back in the late '20s, early '30s,” the President told Yahoo Finance in an interview on Thursday. “People still remember the uncertainty that came from their pensions shrinking. Their home values dropping precipitously...losing a job. And so I think there's still an insecurity there.”
The President pointed out that the economy is in better shape now than in 2008. The unemployment rate has dropped to 5% from its peak of 10%, the beleaguered housing market has come back with housing starts going from under 500 million in 2009 to 1.2 million today, and other cyclical industries like autos have hit new highs.
“It is indisputable that the economy is much better now than it was when I came into office. We're continuing to make progress,” he said. “It's important for people to remember that-- our economy recovered faster and continues to do better than any other-- advanced economy around the world, and that's because we got some policy measures right.”
But he acknowledged that these improvements have not been recognized many consumers.
“[Wages and incomes] haven't gone up as quickly as people had been accustomed to in previous generations,” he said. “There are a lot of reasons for that. Global competition. Technology. You know, corporate practices have changed. In some cases tax policies that I'd like to see changed, and I've tried to push Congress to change have made a difference.”
Obama said he hopes going forward there will be a focus on additional steps that can be taken to make a difference.
“Why aren't we investing in infrastructure that would put people back to work and strengthen our competitiveness over the long-term? Why aren't we investing more in things like early childhood education so that our education system is generating the workers who we're gonna need for the jobs of the future?”