Citizen Wausau

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When the Recession Hits Home

by on August 31st, 2009

When the words came out of his mouth, my chest started burning. I felt a hot flush travel across my skin, and my muscles grew very tense.

“I am no longer employed at [company name].”

That first day was awful. We took turns weeping. By evening, my eyes were so swollen from tears and my muscles so fatigued from the tension, I just fell into bed and cried some more.

When I quit my job two years ago to become a stay-at-home mom, we knew we were taking a gamble. We depended entirely on my husband’s income, though the small salary from my ongoing temp job has helped. Now that’s all changed.

With the present recession, the jobs available are limited or non-existent. I remember my former boss telling me about when she posted a position last spring, she received 40 resumes, a huge increase from previous years.

I love Wausau dearly. I’m invested in this community. I have friends here. I’ve learned to care deeply about this city. I do not want to leave. I do not want to move to Madison or Green Bay or (shudder) Milwaukee. I want to stay.

But where are the jobs? Our unemployment rate has dipped slightly, but it’s still at 12 percent. That seems daunting to me.

In the meantime, The Husband has put his degree program on the fast track. We plan on staying in town to finish that degree, but after that, we can’t in good conscience insist on staying here if nobody is hiring. We have to go where the jobs are.

NTC will have some accelerated learning courses for displaced workers this fall. Training people for new jobs is important, but I wonder if anybody is hiring, regardless of the field or skill set. Employees at various companies around town are swamped and overworked, but layoffs keep happening. Everybody is tightening their belts, and too many people are left in a state of miserable desperation as they get pushed aside.

Survival of the fittest? I guess all we can do is make ourselves the most appealing employees possible. Network. Ask about opportunities or initiatives. Spend as little money as possible. Pray you don’t get ill and need medical attention. Count your blessings especially when you have few pennies to count. Paper the whole town with your resume. And hope for the best.

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