Social Question

delta77's avatar

How has this recession affected you?

Asked by delta77 (196 points ) November 8th, 2009

This is a tough time, how has it affected your life, in any way?

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36 Answers

drdoombot's avatar

Haven’t gotten any callbacks on the resumes I’ve sent in for job openings. I don’t know if this means I’m underqualified or that people with much better qualifications are applying for the same jobs.

Lightlyseared's avatar

It hasn’t. I’m earning more this year than I was last year.

Narl's avatar

The school I work at keeps threatening that they are going to cut back on programs. Many teachers are scared for their jobs.

evegrimm's avatar

It’s been difficult to find a job; my stepfather was laid off and so my mom is uber-stressed out; I’m worried about the future economy (will I be able to get a job?).

Also, it’s very sad to know that many, many schools are cutting out extracurriculars—Art, Music, P.E., etc. Research has shown that students that participate in extracurriculars are better at regular school, too.

Judi's avatar

Our small construction and maintenance company is pretty much going backwards. We are a legit business and our most recent hire has been with us over 5 years. We only have 5 employees and we offer medical insurance.
We are now competing with unlicensed out of work construction workers who will work for $15.00 per hour under the table.
Our insurance premiums (not only health, but liability, and workers comp) keep sky rocketing and we can’t charge more to make up for it. There is no new work out there.
If something doesn’t happen, we are going to either have to stop providing health benefits, in-act pay cuts, or lay people off. As it is we are really just trading dollars to keep people working, and some months we go in the hole to keep them employed.

figbash's avatar

I was laid off and I nearly lost my mind in the process, but it definitely helped me really identify what i want out of life and my highly dysfunctional relationship with money.

I think I have a much healthier appreciation for the true cost of things now and how I’d been completely reckless with my spending. It’s also helped me prioritize things differently, too.

Facade's avatar

It’s affected my relationship and well-being negatively. And I can’t seem to land a job.
It’s also making me more resentful than ever of going to school. The thought of struggling every day for four years or more and not being able to have a good job in the end is totally fucked up for lack of more poignant words

deni's avatar

it hasn’t, at all.

marinelife's avatar

Husband laid off. Have to pay for COBRA. Little response to job applications. Working for less money with no benefits.

dpworkin's avatar

I’ve lost what little income I had left.

Leanne1986's avatar

My dad was made redundant. Tht doesn’t affect me personally seeing as I don’t live with him but he was made redundant from a place that I work at also. We have all been threatened with possible reduncy and so I am living with the worry that I might be next.

Judi's avatar

@Leanne1986 ; I am not familiar with that term when it comes to employment. It must be a British thing. Could you explain it?

shego's avatar

I lost my job, and I am living at home. I am doing babysitting, and, I am crocheting hats and scarves, and going to crafts fairs, to sell them. It sucks, of course, but it has given me challenge. But I haven’t given up or anything like that, it just gives me some time to spend with my family. And I’m able to share my “artistic side”, and profit from it.

Leanne1986's avatar

@Judi Redundant? Laid off. I don’t know if this is the same where you are but usually, depending on how long you have been working for the company, if you are made redundant (laid off) here you get a certain amount of payment as compensation. For example my dad was paid a weeks worth of wages per year he had worked for the company. He had worked there 12 years.

dpworkin's avatar

We call that being laid off.

dpworkin's avatar

Ooops, jinx.

Leanne1986's avatar

@pdworkin Haha…I haven’t heard “jinx” for a very long time!

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

It hasn’t, I happen to work in the one industry that hasn’t really taken a hit because of the recession. My wife on the other hand, saw 38 people laid off from her place of employment, but then, that could simply be because the State of IL is around 78 million in debt.

God I love living in the most corrupt state in the lower 48.

MrItty's avatar

I lost my second (part-time) job, due to budget cuts. That additional income was being used to help pay off my car early. The first (full-time) job has also become more stressful, as there are now fewer of us to do the same amount of work due to lay offs.

Allie's avatar

I’m a senior at a California university.

Not as many classes offered..
Or a class is not offered as often (1 quarter a year as opposed to two, or two opposed to three)
More students in the classes that are available.
Faculty and staff are being furloughed.
There aren’t as many TAs being hired, which means no discussion sessions.
Student resources are being cut.

My senior seminar class more than doubled in size from 15 students to 32. We only meet once a week and on top of that our professor is forced to take furlough days which result in less office hours for us to contact her outside of class. (As of right now, professors can’t use furlough days on teaching days.)

aprilsimnel's avatar

I lost my well-paying admin job at a hedge fund and have been out of work for a year as of this week.

It’s made me see how much of my identity I derived from having a job at all, and I’ve been working on changing that mindset.

Likeradar's avatar

At first I actually really liked the recession. I still had my jobs (all 3 of them), and everything was on sale!
Then I lost my highest paying job at the end of the summer, and now I’m trying hard to scrape by. People aren’t hiring PT nannies like they were- prerecession I could name my price and get mostly the benefits I wanted. Now, people aren’t hiring nannies when they could send their kid to a day care for much less money.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s made us fearful. We don’t spend any money or take any vacations in case one of us (or both) get laid off.

YARNLADY's avatar

The two biggest changes are the value of our properties, and the fact that my husband’s work force has dropped back down to 3 from a high of 8. One thing I like is that we can now afford to get some work done that we were holding off for lower prices.

galileogirl's avatar

@Leanne1986 In the US the redundacy payments are not very common. Usually they are built into union contracts. The most many people get is advance notice that they are being laid off w/i 30 days. I am actually benefitting from the recession. I have a strong pension that will pay me 60% of my salary and subsidized medical insurance-good union contract. That is all I have been spending over the last 10 years, investing the balance in pre-tax annuities and CD.s. not the market. My retirement is also good for my colleagues because we are losing 1 position in our dept. Since it’s me it won’t be one of them.

I never thought I would be able to buy a house, but the collapse of the real estate market is allowing me to buy one with a mortgage payment $500 less than my current rent. Unfortunately a nice yong couple is losing their home. Her job disappeared while she was on maternity leave, he lost the overtime they counted on and their mortgage readjusted.

dalepetrie's avatar

September, 2008, the start of it all. The real estate developer for whom I worked had been suffering a prolonged cash shortage and throughout my over 2 years there, the story was constantly about working very hard to get loans to keep the doors open. We believed we had bridge funding to get us through the next 3 months worth of payroll, rent and other necessities, and we had tons of development deals lined up for the first time since things had started to go bad. We thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but instead, one bad thing after another from September to January caused that tunnel to completely collapse. At end of month January when it came time to distribute payroll checks, the funding we thought we’d have in the door by the end of the month was not there. I had to (while simultaneously worrying about my own finances) play peacemaker with the employees while assuring them, as I had myself been assured, that funding was delayed and everyone would get paid, it would just be a bit late. Come February 7, the owner informed everyone it wasn’t going to happen, the company was for all intents and purposes “on hiatus” and while the owner was committed to getting everyone paid, he had no idea when he’d be able to do so. So, jobs were gone and basically everyone had already been unemployed for 5 weeks and didn’t know it. Being in control of the checks (as I’m the one who did payroll, and I’m the one who had all the access to the bank accounts), I knew there were limited funds available, just not nearly enough to make payroll, and in the interest of my own survival, on the way to the meeting where we were told money was not coming in, as I had a bad feeling about it, and was concerned that this might be the message, and as I had bills that were due in 3 days, I deposited my check, which I knew would clear, and then after the meeting I sent the owner an email saying that I’d had my check ready to go to the bank, and wouldn’t you know it, my wife went and dropped off the deposit…I kind of felt like push came to shove I had the legal upper hand, but if I didn’t approach it right, he could stop payment and refuse me a reference, two reasons I continued to help support him over the next couple months as I had time. I had enough of the financial records, passwords, and knowledge to basically get my payroll, my expense reports and a few hours of contract wages out of him before I returned all the company records, and I managed to do so in a way that didn’t piss him off, so he’s still my main reference, and I hope he manages to stay out of jail long enough for me to get a job and use him as such.

But 9 months down the road, I have no job. Now, I have a Bachelor’s in Accounting. I passed the CPA examination. I have been a professional Accountant for 15 years. I am applying for everything from Staff Accountant to CFO and several financial and business analyst positions, casting a net wide enough to catch ANYTHING I might even remotely qualify for, and yet the phone has barely rung. In fact, I went for over 3 months without getting a single phone call. And I’ve been unemployed before, it does sometimes take a while, but usually what happens is I apply for maybe 250 jobs, I end up getting 25 interviews and 2 job offers…that’s pretty standard. I would guesstimate that I have at this point applied for over 500 jobs, I’ve gotten 3 interviews and no offers. Even the staffing agencies have nothing, and I live in a huge metro area with the world HQs of 19 Fortune 500 companies…this is a major business center which needs people like me. And then I’ll pour my heart and soul into a job search and the employers who do call seem to string me along and then completely drop the ball.

Case in point, I got a phone call for a Controller position. The job duties were very similar to what I’d performed in the past. They were looking to convert their computer system, something I had direct experience doing. On paper, they were looking for me. I applied and almost immediately got a phone call. The general manager talked to me for ½ an hour on the phone before she set up the interview. We had a lot of areas where I was able to demonstrate how I could help them, it couldn’t have gone more well. She set up an interview for me the following week. I met with her, the contractor doing the job in the interim, and the owner of the company, a family business that had been around for over 100 years. I wowed them. The owner gave me a personal tour. He told the GM before the interview was over to make sure to get my references. I left expecting to hear back the next week. I sent a brief email saying thank you and here are my references. I sent out hand written thank you cards to both the GM and the owner. One week after the interview I sent an email saying thanks again and just following up, and to let me know whatever they have decided or even if they haven’t made a decision. That was 2 weeks ago, might even be 3 now, and they never responded to that email, they never sent me a thanks but no thanks letter…I don’t think there’s any possibility I’m still in the running for the job, but they left me rather ambiguously, saying after the interview that the next step would probably be having me meet with their tax accountant. So, maybe they’re having trouble getting on his schedule. Maybe they offered the job to someone else and that person is thinking about it and they don’t want to burn a bridge. Or more likely, they have so many applicants they don’t even believe in the common courtesy of a follow up to tell someone that they’re no longer being considered. And this is a family business, not some faceless corporation.

I’m finding that I will sent out resumes where if there are 20 job duties listed, 10 core requirements and 5 desired qualifications, and I have first hand experience in all 20 job duties, meet all 10 requirements and have 4 of the 5 desired qualifications, I more often than not still do not get a call. And I’m willing to commute much further than ever before, I’m willing to take a massive pay cut, whatever it takes. I’m certain I’m not coming off as desperate, I’m very familiar with how to conduct a job search, and I’m thinking that is about the only potential problem. I have had a number of jobs, some lasting less than 2 years. The transitions are all explainable and I’ve never been a job hopper, but I’ve been laid off many times, not for anything I did wrong, just the way it goes…companies restructure, or even shut down. One would think that when 10% of the population is unemployed, employers would understand why you’re out of work, but it almost seems you need to have a job to get a job.

And all this would even be OK, but the economy has crippled me in another way. You see, I have had credit cards for close to 20 years, I have been in my house for 12.5 years. I have had bank loans and have paid them in full. I have never missed or been late on a house payment or a credit care payment. I’ve never paid a late fee. As such, throughout the 90s and even into the 2000, I was inundated with pre-approved, low interest offers. What happened a lot was the 3 other times I’d been laid off since 2003, all of which occurred while my wife was in grad school, I would get something like 2.99% interest until the balance is paid in full, so I’d open a card and I’d get a 10 to 25k credit line. I’d move things around or pay them off in one form or another, so what I ended up having was 4 credit cards, all of which had been purchased by Chase, which had balances on them which were at a low interest rate (under 5%), probably totalling about 30k in debt, but again that was so low interest it really didn’t matter. But I also had just tons of open credit cards out there, so I had access to probably 150k in revolving credit at my fingertips. This included my American Express card which I signed up for because it doubles as a Costco membership, so I only pay one annual fee. I went in to sign up for the card in March of ‘08, expecting to get a few hundred dollar credit line so I could use it at Costco. Instead, I got a 33,000 dollar credit line…I didn’t need that much. But the interest was under 10%, and I thought this could be used as a last resort if I was unemployed for a long time and couldn’t tap into that other 150k any cheaper than 10% for whatever reason.

My other ace in the hole, or so I thought, was my house. I live in an area where houses were even in the downturn, on my block, selling in 3 days. I had bought my house for 105k in 1997, and in 2006 I refinanced, it was appraised at 265k and I only borrowed 175k of that. So, I thought home values may have dropped, but probably not quite as precipitously in my neighborhood which doesn’t have any vacant homes and where houses still seem to sell. So the first thing I did was to call my mortgage company and ask if I could get a home equity line of credit. At this time, there was still a belief that there might be some chance of the business coming back, the phones for the business rolled to our cell phones and I was the guy to verify financial data, so I could have used my old income to qualify, plus my wife is working ½ time, so if the intention was to basically have a cushion we wouldn’t use unless times got really tough, this seemed like a good option and one I could probably pull off (a lot of guys I worked with managed to do so).

So, the banker first says a 2nd mortgage is a better option for me because I can lock in the amount if housing values drop further and I can get a fixed rate. So he checks my credit rating. 3 agencies came back with 715, 718 and 720. He told me that even though anything over 700 was ALWAYS considered a great credit rating, restrictions on lending had tightened up so much that they weren’t doing any mortgages unless you had all 3 over 720. So, he said he could do a HELOC with that rating, and had to check my housing values. Well, they had dropped, and really all I wanted was access to an emergency 10 grand if times got really rough. Well, he said the problem was, they would not write a HELOC for under 25k. Well, my balance was 170k and a year and a half before my home appraised at 265k, so I figured hopefully there was still 25k in equity there, and there was, but they had also tightened lending so that they could loan more than I think 75% of the home’s value, which meant my maximum amount I could borrow based on the home estimate was 15k, which was not enough to write a loan for.

Well, I wasn’t freaking out yet, I still had my AMEX, and a ton of other open credit lines I hadn’t been using, which I was going to find out what they all were. Then AMEX, who had given me WAY more credit than I needed a year before, wrote me to tell me they were cutting my credit line of 33k down to 3,900! There went my cushion. Then as soon as they did that, one by one, all of these other open lines of credit that I thought I had, I’d start getting letters…we’ve closed this account. No warning, just gone, no way to fight it. I was down pretty much to the cards I use and pay off in full every month. Times got tough enough I started having to let the credit ride. Now it’s a game of staying under my available credit on my Discover Card and my AMEX, both of which were charging me 10%...a lot for me, but not that bad in the grand scheme of things. So, I build up balances on those cards and all of a sudden they both send me letters saying, we’re jacking up your rates, and you can refuse, but if you do we’ll cancel your account. Now when I can least afford additional expenses, I’m paying 13 and a quarter percent (I’d never paid more than 5% for borrowed money in my LIFE).

So I start looking at 401(k)s I have out there, thinking maybe I can borrow against those. Nope, see…to discourage people cashing out their 401(k)s, they let you borrow, but only if you’re employed and the employer administers the 401(k) so they can ensure you will pay it back (because your employer has to deduct payments from your payroll). All well and good, but it leaves an unemployed person with the incentive to cash out his 401(k) and pay the 10% penalty, because basically, if you have no income, your tax rate is going to be pretty low, and you may not owe any actual taxes on the distribution, so you get off by paying 10%, which is less than you’d pay if you took it out when you retired. So, I had to cash out a smaller one but I made myself promise to pay aggressively into the next employer sponsored 401(k) I get to make up for it.

Then I found out about the new loan programs available throught he stimulus plan. So I checked that out, and even though my property now appraises for just more than it’s worth (it’s lost a ton of value since I checked in February) and I could refinance, but my interest rate would actually go up, I would be able to cash out about 3 grand, and it would cost me 4 grand in closing costs to get it.

Long and short, even now after 9 months out of work, I still have never been as much as a day late on a payment, I have a small fraction of the available credit I once used to, it’s all several times more expensive than it used to be, I have no income, I’m further in debt, and the value of all my assets has gone down by 10s of thousands of dollars. I’m wroth probably a hundred grand less than I was worth a year ago, the credit rating I’ve worked diligently my whole life to build is now so bad I couldn’t even get a $300 line of credit from Pearle Vision to buy glasses this summer, and I have zero job prospects, I’m within a few weeks of exhausting the first emergency extension of unemployment benefits, and I’m working way harder just looking for work than I ever did when I was employed.

YARNLADY's avatar

@dalepetrie When I read stories like yours, it brings out just how lucky I have been. Just the part about the equity loan – we applied for ours when the market was at the top, and it is still available, for the same amount, same interest rate we first got (3.5%). We were able to use it to buy a used car just last month, when the car my son was using finally died.

galileogirl's avatar

@dalepetrie You will come out of this a wiser and financially healthier person. I don’t know if you will ever achieve the same career success. If you are close to 50 probably not, in your 30’s a good possibility. We went through a recession in the early 80’s that was more local to the West Coast andI had a similar experience. The officers went out one day and sold the assets of the corp. I was the only one who knew it was happening. After the papers were signed nobody came back but word got to the guys on the factory floor and I was the sr person in the building, so I had to talk a hundred and 40 guys to finish out the day’s work and come back the next day. It was a very painful couple of weeks as I had to let go all the office staff. Everybody got paid for the time they worked but the new owners wanted to pay off the vendors instead of the accrued vacation pay due the employees. On the 1st day I had taken a little notebook of employee information out in my purse so employees had backup for vac pay.

I spent several months working out of an agency, I was company controller too, sometimes just doing bookkeeping. Often it paid less than unemployment. When I got a full time job, it was at a lower wage in a smaller company without benefits. Eventually after working as controller/accountant/office manager/jack of all trades I needed something more so I switched careers in my mid-40’s. The starting salary was about half but there were good benefits and stability and I enjoyed it.

I had also learned that I didn’t need to live in a home with an ocean view, I didn’t need a newer car, I didn’t need anything I couldn’t pay for right now. So I cleared my debt. took on extra assignments, took local vacations, basically downsizing.

That’s what my grandparents did in the 30’s, what my folks did during their financial downtimes, what I learned. You will come back and this time you will live withen your means. That will be the measure of your success, not the things you acquire.

PS As a man with finacial training did you refinance your house?

dalepetrie's avatar

@galileogirl – I hope and expect this is true about coming out better than before. I really was very fiscally responsible with my money (I did refi my house in 2006, but I haven’t since I lost my job because like I said, first I couldn’t do it, and no with the stimulus I can, but the effective interest rate right out of the gate would be 133%...like I said $4k in closing costs to free up $3k in cash, I’m not stupid). What I have going for me, I am 38, so I’m closer to 30 than 50, but not by much. I was a Controller much in the same vein as you described, really a financial Jack of all trades, sometimes it’s bookkeeping, some times it’s more challenging. I actually enjoy that to be honest, and that would be my ideal, a one man Accounting show for a smaller company…I’ve had 3 such roles and they have been my favorites. Regarding switching careers, short of finding some way to parlay writing into a paying career, I suspect if I were to switch career paths what I would like to do would be to apply my knowledge to teaching. Problem is, to teach Accounting and get a decent job making even in the ballpark of what I’d need to make to just meet my existing financial obligations, I’d probably need a PhD and that just seems like a lot of work to go backwards…maybe this will be the thing to force me into it.

But thing is, Some Controllers make 6 figures, some high 6 figures in fact, I was mid to upper 5 and I never really expected to get to 6. I didn’t go into public accounting, never worked with SEC filings, none of the stuff that they pay the big bucks for, and I have no interest in going there. I’ll never be a CEO or CFO, but I feel like I spent all these years to get to where I was, which was where I always wanted to be, and I’m not ready to give up on it altogether. I’m prepared to step back by as much as 20k in salary and 3 or 4 titles, but less than that is really unattainable…I’m overqualified and no one will touch me, and it won’t pay the bills. I don’t have beachfront property, I don’t buy new cars, I don’t really live too far outside my means….my big vice is I collect a lot of media, but I’m downsizing in that area more than upsizing these days, and I usually buy used for next to nothing, so my vices are more of a space issue than a money issue. There are a few things I could cut out of my budget, but it seems like with how conservatively I live, well, quite frankly, someone who has a bachelor’s in Accounting and 15 year experience, who is married to a woman with a Master’s degree in Library Sciences, well to put it bluntly…goddamn it, there’s NO REASON I should have to give up my HOME of 12 years and live in a fleaag apartment, feeding my son Ramen. Sure, I’m a few steps away from that…I’m not greedy, I’m used to a slightly better than average standard of living, but I’ve worked to get there. I don’t honestly know what I’ll do if I completely lose unemployment and still don’t have a job. I’m basically betting that I’ll find a job that pays the bills before I am out of unemployment and in my head I’ve got about 7 contingency steps before I’m out of options. One of them is leaning more on my retired parents who are doing well. One is going back to school to teach. One is starting my own consulting business. One is cashing out the rest of my 401(k) and figuring out what to do about retirement later in life. One is to to declare bankruptcy. If there is any way I can keep from losing my house, I will do it, and I’m not even discounting less than legal methods of treading water…nothing specific. I’m not expecting to end up with a 15 to 20% salary increase like I used to every time I changed jobs early in my career, like I said a 25% decrease is acceptable. But I didn’t go to school and work for a decade and a half to go back to the starting board.

dalepetrie's avatar

Removed by me as it was a double post.

galileogirl's avatar

I told you so

Judi's avatar

@dalepetrie; GOOD LUCK!!!!!

dalepetrie's avatar

Huh? my last post was there twice and now it’s not there at all because I removed the double. *#&!

dalepetrie's avatar

Anyway, I won’t rant this time, just the particulars so no one is confused. That job I told you about, I sent thank you notes, followed up 3 times, heard nothing back for 3 weeks, thought it was an indicator that even small companies aren’t following up with thanks but no thanks letters. Got a 2nd interview!

JustAnother's avatar

I decided not to participate in any recession. There was no need to add some unnecessary stress to my life.

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