Article II, Section 3, of the United States Constitution requires that the President "from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union." While the "State of the Union" began as a written report to update Congress, it has evolved into an annual tradition in which the President describes, via a speech telecast internationally, his or her view of the health of the nation and how his or her policies have shaped, and will continue to shape, the direction of the country.
Going beyond the official state of the union address, which typically happens each January, the press and the public continually attribute the "State of the Union" to the actions of the current administration. That attribution extends to nearly every topic that impacts the country from the economy to the environment.
The degree to which a president is responsible for various aspects of our society is debatable. For example, the unemployment rate is impacted by a variety of factors including fiscal policies set by the current administration, monetary policies set by the Federal Reserve, and economic factors (e.g., advances in technology, global competitiveness, business cycle) that may be outside of anyones control. For better or worse, however, in the minds of many Americans the President becomes inextricably linked to the state of our society. If he or she is not the driving force impacting the unemployment rate in our country, to many the President is the single greatest force. As a result when things go well, the President gets the credit; when things go poorly the President receives the blame.
This site does not take on the question of whether the president is responsible for the state of our country. Instead it focuses on reporting how five key statistical indicators that are often used to describe our economy (the stock market and the unemployment rate), fiscal responsibility (the national debt as a function of GDP), income equality, and safety (violent crime rate) have changed since the start of each administration.
If you believe that there is a statistical error on the site, or if you have any comments or suggestions, you can contact the editor at StatsoftheUnion@gmail.com.