Posts Tagged Econ

View of the recession

The company I work for has done a first round of layoffs. The result has been a major shift in job duties for many employees (myself included). For me, I think it’s a good move – for the first time since I was hired, I have an actual job description (for a long time, I’ve been the guy who was constantly moving from one crisis to another and solving it – my new job is an actual job with a description, regular goals and projects; it’s a new experience.).

As part of my new job, I am spending a lot of time with our employees – and many of them are feeling incredible financial pressures. Spouses are suddenly unemployed and bills are going unpaid. Credit – not so long ago easy and accessible – has dried up; for some this means they are unable to keep living in the manner to which they are accustomed. Other coworkers who were getting by with second jobs are discovering they can’t keep their second jobs and can’t find new ones. For our hourly employees, we’re cutting overtime sharply; several employees who had been racking up twenty hours of o/t every pay period are suddenly getting an hour of it. That has led to some severe financial pressures for them; even though their hourly pay has stayed the same, the cut in hours is a deep cut in pay. Other employees who had been receiving regular productivity bonuses are no longer receiving them. And while these bonuses weren’t huge, they allowed the people receiving them purchase some luxuries – you know, pay a babysitter and go to dinner with the spouse every so often.

I wrote the other day about the ways in which the generation that came of age during the Depression treated money. As I talk to my coworkers, I think we’re going to see similar outcomes from this particular crisis. What’s happening on a daily basis with my coworkers is rearranging the way people relate to their money and spending. At a company that regularly saw new cars in the parking lot, only one employee has purchases a new car in the last four months (and that was in fact new to her – she bought a good used car). I know all the arguments and I understand the paradox of thrift, but for now, I think the view of the recession is a deeply scarring experience for my coworkers. Past recessions – at least that I remember – were relatively short and shallow. They didn’t last long enough to change your spending habits. This one, I think, will be.

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