The Lingering Effects of the Great Recession: Are we better off?

Are we better off? That's really what it boils down to when the conversation begins about…

Georgia (Dec 11, 2014) — Are we better off?


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That's really what it boils down to when the conversation begins about everything from the price of gas to our jobs to the condition of our finances to the value of our home. Are we better off than we were in 2008, the year the recession hit so many of us, producing gut-wrenching accounts of so many individuals and families being kicked to the curb and losing much of their life savings?    . . . 

The housing market also continues on an upward trend, with more homebuyers returning to the market, driving up home values.

Amid these promising signs and a strong stock market, you would expect strong consumer confidence, but many remain skittish and cautious about their financial future. Many are still reluctant to start spending, which some say largely explains the lukewarm retail numbers – down 11 percent nationwide, according to the Wall Street Journal – out of Black Friday weekend.

Lucy Ackert, professor of Economics, Finance & Quantitative Analysis at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, puts that sentiment in perspective.

"So many people suffered. Many lost their homes," she says. "Maybe it's good that people learned from prior experience. We don't want to be driven purely by emotion where we go spend and retract … maybe it's  good to learn from history."

At the moment, plenty of research shows that despite positive indicators, consumers remain somewhat pessimistic, especially when compared to the professional financial industry, Ackert explains. Where institutional money managers are confident, individuals at home remain pessimistic.

"It's interesting because the stock market keeps going up," Ackert says. "That kind of seems like a disconnect there. But it goes in cycles. It's always the chicken and the egg problem. We don't know if confidence is driving the economy or the economy driving confidence, but it seems to cycle together and there is evidence on both sides."

Are we better off? Depending on the numbers, the answers vary, and we know how different people can see numbers in different ways.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit