The Recession in Focus: My Story

March 24, 2009

Okay, maybe I don’t live in Michigan or Rhode Island, the two states with the worst unemployment rates, but the recession has definitely hit home. According to the New York Times, men accounted for 82 percent of those who lost their jobs, leaving more women as the sole family breadwinner. Men are more likely to work in industries that are the most sensitive to the current recession, including manufacturing, construction, finance, and car dealerships. I’ve been reading about how the money from the stimulus will be pumped into the economy, but when will this happen? I’m trying to stay optimistic, but, unfortunately, that hasn’t the stopped the recession from reaching my own house.

My sister lost her job at a northern Virginia computer software company in mid-December. She is in her mid-20s, and this was her first job after college. If my sister had followed my mother’s advice, she might have been spared. Mom always emphasized going into the “safer” professions in health care, education, or the federal government. My sister thinks about this every day. At least now she has some spare time for her first love, writing poetry. Nonetheless, like most unemployed people, she finds having so much free time frustrating.

My other sister is in her late-20s and is married with two kids. In early January she lost her job at an investment banking firm. She says job hunting was easier in the past: “Now, if you get two calls a month it’s a blessing; even agencies are overwhelmed.” And that money she saved away for a rainy day? “We are thinking about taking money out of our 401K, and vacations are out of the window, especially with mortgage bills, children, and other expenses. A year ago I wouldn’t have predicted this, not in the slightest bit.” When I asked her about the future, she said, “I don’t know. I have hope in our new president, but I am just mad.”

As another New York Times article notes, “Young people have a great deal of risk capacity, since they have their whole career ahead of them to make up for any mistakes.” Sometimes that means altering their career paths. This notion is something that we young people need to consider when the recession rears its ugly head. It’s hard to say how to avoid rough times, but planning retirement and saving are still necessities. Our generation must remember that women still make only 78 cents for every dollar men earn, which means that saving is harder and we must work longer to plan for a decent retirement.

Even though, as the Times reports, “women may be safer in their jobs,” they may still “find it harder to support a family,” especially since “they work fewer overall hours than men. Women are much more likely to be in part-time jobs without health insurance or unemployment insurance.” A previous blog post provides some great insight on retirement planning, and I would definitely advise all women to take a closer look. I would also love to hear your stories. I may not be “Bailout Bill,” who recently gave out $50 and $100 bills in Union Station, but I do think that the voices of the recession should be heard.

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By:   |   March 24, 2009

1 Comment

  1. Carolyn Hayek says:

    I have been helping my niece and nephew with their college expenses. My nephew graduates in a couple months but has been unsuccessful in finding a job. My niece has another year to go, but with family investments down in value it will be a challenge to pay her last year’s expenses. She wants to enter the Peace Corps, but will she be able to with limited job prospects and probably many students having the same idea. I am mostly retired, but who knows how secure our investment income is. Do we have enough income to travel and enjoy the benefits of retirement? It’s hard to say. Uncertainty is affecting everyone.

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