Thursday, January 7, 2010

Trudging Through the Recession

I read somewhere that the recession has not affected those who were already poor as they are carrying on as usual. The ones who are truly affected are the newly poor. Those who have been laid off and haven't found new employment or those who have used all of their savings or retirement are the ones who are affected the most. I agree that it must be a new experience for people in that situation. I can sympathise with those dealing with poverty for the first time. What I disagree with is the idea that this has not affected the already poor. I can tell you we are worse off than before.

The main way this has affected us is with jobs. A few short years ago jobs were more plentiful. You could leave one low wage position and be in another within a week or two. Individuals are hanging on to even the worst of jobs at this time. Sure some people quit, due to their addictions or problems, but most workers are staying put until a definite replacement job is in their grasp.

I have also noticed that many managers, at least in my area, are reluctant to fire at this time. They are aware that unemployment benefits may be paid out for quite some time. They also know that there aren't many other places to find employment. They are more willing to work with the staff they have and retrain people or even transfer them to other locations instead of firing.

Some businesses seem to be using the recession as an excuse to take advantage of their work force. Benefits are being slashed, raises denied, unsafe working conditions ignored. When you were treated like this a few years ago you could just go pick another job but now many are stuck dealing with it.

My husband is one of those dealing with it until something somewhere opens up. He is working on his third year with no raise. He has been told that he would get one after a sales goal was met and then he was told to wait a month, then he was told all raises were held because of the recession. When hired he was making above minimum wage. When our state had the minimum increased all the workers were dropped to minimum wage. He worked for the same company, different owner, years ago. He used to get a raise every three months and a holiday bonus. Now he gets minimum wage and the run around.

I just wanted to say that the economy has affected the working poor by taking away our choices. There are fewer jobs and more people applying for whatever does open up. We may have always been poor and already had the skills to survive but it is harder now.


  1. WP: Very true. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a guest column in the NY Times last summer that raised this very point--that while the "new poor" are struggling and in trouble, the "old" poor--the working poor, as it were--are being hit harder as well, but are now invisible more than ever because of all the media attention on the new poor. One thing I don't see in this area are employers being "reluctant to fire." The other things you talk about--slashed benefits, no raises, etc.--are true though all around here.

    I saw your comment on my blog about Sam and the psychological testing. Sam is a veteran on those tests online or in written form, but apparently had never experienced a "live administration." Just couldn't hold it in as he was being questioned. I had a colleague comment that this response "disturbed" him (he only knows Sam through my blog) and I said Sam is only 19, he is still growing up, and he'll learn. Laughter was not the worst response he could have had! He has some other job possibilities out there; we will get through this. There are far worse things--like not working at all--than being at McDonalds.

  2. If the interviewer had any sense of humor the laughter should not affect his getting hired. Hope things fall into place for him soon.