Five Years After Obama Takes Office, Citizens Weigh in on Economy

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COLUMBIA - President Barack Obama is expected to give a speech Friday at a Ford Motor Co. facility near Kansas City.

After five years in office, the President will talk about the 2008 financial crisis and where we now stand.

KOMU 8 News wanted to find out how people in mid-Missouri feel about the current U.S. economy.

University of Missouri's economics professor Christopher Otrok has studied the economy for more than 10 years.

"It's a mixed bag, because there's certainly positive things in the recovery," Otrok said. "The Federal Reserve did a pretty effective job at sort of mitigating how bad the crisis could have been. Unemployment, on the other hand, declined in recent years, but it's still very high by historical standards."

Otrok said economic uncertainty still exists, and political reform is needed.

"These are uncertainties we're putting upon ourselves actually for no good reason, and that damages the economy as well," Otrok said. "There has to be some political reform to bring stability to the economy so we can grow faster. If that happens, then I think we can see, sustain growth going forward because if you look at the world in general, a lot of countries are growing more rapidly."

Columbia resident Mose Gingerich doesn't think our economy on the national level has improved in the past five years.

"I don't think our economy has taken a significant turn for the worst, but I definitely don't think that it's taken a huge climb for the better as well," Gingerich said. "No serious steps in the right direction, but I think it's just maintaining, which is not bad."

Gingerich said he doesn't agree with so much economic stimulus spending.

"A lot of money getting spent on and it seems like it's coming out of me, as a middle class person, coming out of my pocket, and which we're the majority," Gingerich said. "Me as the U.S. citizen and the middle class person, doesn't seem like we have a lot of say-so as to where that money goes to."

Mike Brooks, the president of Regional Economic Development Inc., said Columbia's economy is improving.

"Veterans United is a project that would illustrate that if somebody is interested, because they added over 1,000 jobs in the last 10 years," Brooks said. "Are we doing the things necessary? I think Columbia is doing a very good job."

An USA Today article states, "the White House said Obama will discuss the progress we have made to grow the economy and create 7.5 million private sector jobs, and highlight the work we still need to do to strengthen the middle class and those fighting to get into it."

KOMU 8 News will have team coverage of Obama's speech Friday beginning on KOMU 8 News Today.