The Big Story Blog

Your neighbors' stories about jobs and joblessness

Posted at 4:41 PM on October 20, 2011 by Jon Gordon
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

Earlier today we highlighted responses from Minnesotans in our Public Insight Network on the jobs advice they would have (should have?) given themselves five years ago when the economy was awesome and the upside on housing values was limitless.

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But my MPR New colleague Molly Bloom also asked random Minnesotans in our Public Insight Network just to share a little about their employment journey during the recession and "recovery." She got back some heartfelt responses that really capture what's happened to so many of us and our neighbors in the four years since the Great Recession officially began.

It wasn't a scientific poll. But I was struck by how many Minnesotans acknowledged pawning items to pay bills, bartering, struggling through foreclosure or seeking help from a food shelf.

"I was laid off in June 2009. My last pay check was in March. I do not expect to have any income from paid employment for the rest of the year," Mari Listopad of Minneapolis wrote us. "I am very concerned about this because I need more tax withholding in order to cover my income taxes this year. In have had to take money from my IRA to pay bills."

Mary Myers of Hopkins said her husband found full time work a few months ago "but for half the pay he used to make."

We are in our 50's and thought we had a very secure life. My husband got laid off from a Huge international company after he had been with them for 14 years. This is a very typical situation in our group of friends.

We no longer have any savings or anything to fall back on. It is very scary to think about elderly life now since we have to start all over.

Some Minnesotans wanted us to know they were doing OK.

"I am lucky to be working for a good stable company. With the economy the way it is, everyone is more nervous, but we always have job openings," said Mike Packer from Bloomington. His wife was unemployed for a short time but found work

While he's been worried over the past year about making ends meet, he says they've been able to stay current on house payments and are holding steady financially. Packer added: "I am one of the 80% of the country that is working and doing OK."

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Elton Fordyce told us he and his wife moved to Sioux Falls, SD earlier this year after both were unemployed. She found a job at a nursing home. He found work in late September as a customer service representative.

"We turned our house over to the mortgage company when we moved to Sioux Falls," he said. "We like our apartment and have no plans to ever buy another house. We are comfortable and content."

Financially, they are holding steady now, but "it has been a long few years."

I am currently earning 1/3 the salary I was earning 3 years ago. It has been hard making ends month to month while also paying for all the related moving expenses but we made it by selling off most of our personal property piece by piece and some help from my sister.

This is my second round of unemployment this decade. I am hoping that living in a larger city in a low tax state will help keep me employed until retirement.

I thank God for the blessings I have received, I've learned a lot about the ups and downs of life and am more appreciative of what I have.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.