Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are fond of asking whether Americans are better off now than they were four years ago. And so, as a public service, about week ago I started tweeting links to headlines in the New York Times from exactly four years earlier, all marked with the hashtag #4yearsagotoday. It’s been quite interesting to watch the progression of stories as the situation with the banks went from bad to worse to unbelievably horrible.
Today, September 15, is the big day: 4 years ago today, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and it very nearly took down the entire financial system with it. That event triggered a huge selloff in the stock market, and it was the beginning of an epic economic collapse that resulted, among other things, in millions of Americans losing their jobs at an incredible pace. To refresh your recollection, in September of 2008, the month the really bad stuff began, 432,000 jobs were lost. The next month, 489,000; and the next, a staggering 803,000. And the worst month for job loss was yet to come: in January of 2009, the month President Obama took office, 818,000 jobs would be lost. It would be March of 2010 before we would begin to see monthly net gains; since then, private sector jobs have been added every month. Sometimes not as many as we’d like, but better that than seeing them disappear.
So, are things all fixed? No, they are not. But is the country better off today than it was four years ago? You bet. I’ll keep tweeting the #4yearsagotoday stories for a while – follow along if you’re interested.