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True Life Stories
Gilbert, AZ -
Five months ago Sherry Robson was an engineering technician in the wafer probe operations of a well known semiconductor manufacturer in Mesa, AZ making nearly $32,000 a year. Today she works as a counter person at Ted's Hotdogs in Mesa working 50 hours a week and making $7.75 an hour. "I knew it was coming. Everybody else was being laid off. I'm surprized I lasted as long as I did."
"Even at slightly above minimum wage I'm making twice as much as I would have gotten on unemployment. They only pay $145 a week in this state. But I'm working more hours and get to spend less time with my son Daniel. He's only five years old, and he spends more time with the babysitter than he does with me."
"I'm probably going to lose my car. I haven't been able to make a payment for two months. That's okay. I can get another car when things get better." Then she looks worried. "But please don't let them take my townhouse. I put every penny I had into the down payment. I'll never be able to afford the down payment again."
Up until eight months ago Richard Dunn was a maintenance supervisor at a well known semiconductor manufacturer in Phoenix, AZ, making nearly $78,000 a year. Today he is working for Dillards in the men's department at Superstition Springs Mall making $10 per hour and working over 50 hours per week trying to pay his mortgage and feed his family.
"I collected unemployment for about 3 months, but the $185 per week I was getting wouldn't even pay the mortgage. Actually I was collecting the maximum benefit, $205 per week, but they kept $20 a week for income taxes. Imagine that, $205 per week and they still collect income taxes on it!" Surprizingly, Dick can still smile while he says that. His wife and daughter can't manage a smile.
"Working 50 plus hours a week I bring home nearly $500 a week, and I can at least pay the mortgage and put some food on the table. But we still have to rely on savings for the car payment, the utilities, and all the other bills." Dick now looks worried. "$500 a week is only about a third of what I was making before. We have cut back every where we can but we are still draining down my 401K real fast. I don't know what I am going to do when it's gone." His daughter begins to cry softly.
Six months ago Mark Durham was a wet etch engineer at a less well known semiconductor manufacturer in Chandler, AZ making nearly $56,000 a year. Now he's a waiter working evenings at Rustler's Roost at South Mountain. With tips he makes about $100 a night on weekends and half that much during the week. He works six ten-hour afternoon/evening shifts. They are closed on Mondays.
"Unemployment paid only $185 a week. I couldn't feed my three boys on that. Working evenings I make twice that much. But I had to give up coaching the boys' baseball team. I really miss that. The boys miss it too. It was good quality time for the whole family." Like Dick, Mark can still smile. His wife looks stoic. The boys are fidgeting.
"Laura has taken a part time job at a caterer while the boys are in school, but she has to be home when they come home. Working 30 hours a week she brings home another $200. That has really helped us make ends meet," Mark says proudly. "With a little luck this recession will end soon, and we can all get back to normal."
It's time for the boys to go to school, and after a quick goodbye kiss, Laura packs them into the van and drives off. Now Mark gives me a worried look. "Even with Laura working, we're only making half of what I was before. We've just about exhausted our savings. I don't know what we are going to do when it's all gone. I pray to God this recession ends before that happens."
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