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Plurality says it's better off than in '09

Rochester Business Journal
September 5, 2014

A plurality of RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll respondents—44 percent—report that they’re better off financially today than they were five years ago.

And the markets reflect that. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed Friday at a record 2,003.37, finishing the month with a 3.8 percent gain. It was the best month for the benchmark index since February and its best August in 14 years.

Three days earlier, the S&P 500 had closed above 2,000 for the first time, more than 16 years after it first reached 1,000.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also posted its biggest monthly gain since February. The blue-chip index has nearly tripled in value since plunging to 6,547 in March 2009 as the Great Recession gripped the U.S. economy.

Along with a rise in the stock market, the last half decade also has seen a fairly steady decline in the unemployment rate, to 6.2 percent in July from 9.5 percent in the same month five years ago.

But not everyone is doing better. About one-third of Americans without a job are in the ranks of the long-term unemployed—roughly double the historical average—and the same percentage of Snap Poll respondents report they are worse off than they were five years ago.

Meanwhile, some observers think the stock market is due for a correction. Most Snap Poll respondents, however, are betting on stocks. Fifty-one percent said stocks are the best investment for the next five years, compared with 21 percent who said real estate.

In September 2012, 43 percent of readers responding to a similar Snap Poll said they were worse off financially than they had been four years earlier. Thirty-nine percent answered “better off,” and 18 percent chose “about the same.”

Nearly 650 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Sept. 2.

Are you better off today financially than you were five years ago?

Better off: 44%  Worse off:  33%  About the same: 23%

In your view, what today is the best investment for the next five years?
Stocks:  51%  Real estate:  21%  Gold:  7% Bonds:  6%  Other commodities:  4%  Other: 10%

There are no good financial investments unless you are in the 1 percent. The rest of us are screwed. I suggest instead that you invest in yourselves: Have some life experiences, invest time in love and joy. Exercise, eat well and preserve your body. Recognize that unless we change the current corporate and political system (and I don’t mean by letting the Tea Party win it for the 1 percent) we’re screwed for this generation in terms of money, and just live with it. Or you could spend time trying to change the system. Good luck with that.
—Lee Drake

As a person nearing retirement age, I find the current situation concerning. Like many people my age, I grew up expecting to be financially comfortable at this point. That is not the case. I do not feel confident in the economy, and health care costs are ever-increasing. Many seniors are caught in the same trap.
—Debby Emerson

Better only because of investments. New employer’s salary is lower, benefits more costly and retirement program without any company contribution.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster

We are heading toward a “royalty”-based society. Wealth is protected by a mishmash of trusts and corporate off-shoring, inversions and taxpayer-funded tax-free zones, all designed to protect long-term siphoning of treasure from Main Street into the hands of the “1 percenters.” The real question that should be asked is, “Will the children of the next generation and the ones after that be at least as well off as their parents?” The answer is a clear and resounding no, at least unless they can hire legal specialists to help them with convoluted tax and profit-hiding schemes.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

Better off, not because of government policies but because I absolutely refuse to quit working at both earning income and curbing expenses.
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

Asset allocation is the best tactic to investing rather than trying to guess which investments will outperform others. Market timing rarely works out.
—Mike Guche, Canfield & Tack Inc.

I stayed invested, mostly in stocks, as my plan has been for 30 years. Of course, I was very concerned in the dark days of 2008-2009, but like the “Man of Steel” roller-coaster ride, I just held on and rode it out like I’ve done the last three or four downturns since 1984. My IRA/401(k) is up more than 150 percent from pre-crash days (2007 highs). I would suggest staying invested in U.S. stocks. People say it’s too late to get in; I believe you just will not get as great of a return as if you were currently invested. What is the alternative—0.5 percent money market or bank rates? Who can live on that type of return?
—Stanley Hilt

Over the last five years, I have witnessed the demise of the print industry. After leaving RIT in 2005, I was making more money then as a 21-year-old child than I am now as a 30-year-old woman with a B.S. in the print industry.
—Christina Benway, AlphaGraphics of Rochester

The economy will never be favorable for those who dropped out of high school or those that have minimum skills and work experience. Students in high school and college, along with those currently employed, always need to look ahead and understand what skills will be in demand. For those in the market, always an up-and-down ride.
—Keith Newcomer

No way! I am better off now than at the worst point of the recession, but not as well off as before it happened! Add in the last five years of just getting back to where we were (with no real gain), and we are even further behind!
—George Thomas, Ogden

Over the past five years, my stocks have done quite well. I’ve reduced my workload so I can enjoy life more—at least spring through fall here in Rochester. I’m looking forward to the Republicans taking over the Senate so we can go back to the legislative gradualism that the founders wanted. Checks and balances.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Rochester

Our constant devaluation of the dollar by the Fed requires one to obtain something of constant or increasing value. Example: farmland. What do you think or believe?
—John Sackett

For more comments, go to  To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at

8/29/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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