Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tough Times

Unless you're hiding under a rock somewhere, you've already heard about our national financial problems that are also wreaking problems throughout the rest of the world. Here in Western Kansas, we haven't seen too many major problems dealing with this crisis until just lately. Before then, it seemed to mainly affect the Western and Eastern United States. Now, it is working it's way into the middle.

I spoke to a manager of a business in Garden City yesterday. She runs a kind of business that almost everyone in the world patronizes every month or two. During the past few months, she and her co-workers have noticed a decrease in business. At first, it was a slight decrease but over time, it has increased by leaps and bounds. Two weeks ago, the manager was informed that she must lower her employees' hours that week. The following week, she was told to lower their hours even more.

The business is open 7 days per week and is normally open from 9:00 to 9:00 each day. Now, it is closing at 6:00 on Sundays. The manager doesn't know how long she and her employees are going to be able to hang on with these reduced hours. There is also a good possibility that more hours will be cut from their schedules.

I asked her why their business has decreased so greatly. She informed that some major employers in the area have been forced to drop full-time plus employees down to a part-time basis because of financial issues. Therefore, when a person has less money in their paychecks, they have to find as many ways as possible to cut daily costs in their lives. She gave me an example, her former boy-friend worked in one of those businesses. Before the recession, he was working a minimum of 70 hours during a 7-day-period. Now, he is reduced to less than 32 per week. What a major cut in the paycheck!!! The employer still needs just as much work done as normal so in order to save themselves, they have actually hired additional employees. Therefore, they have been able to cut out the overtime pay.

In a way, that is a double-edged sword. More people were hired including people who were actually brought to Finney County for these jobs. Rent prices went up because of insufficient housing for everyone. Great for landlords--not great for renters who were finding it difficult to keep up with the lower rent money. Now, Finney County is finding that a significant amount of people are having to move away so that they can find jobs that will hopefully produce better income.

It doesn't appear that our nation will bounce back any time soon. It was recently announced that 10%, which translates to one out of every 10 people, are unemployed and don't want to be.

Word of advice, if you have a job, no matter how much you may not like it, you better hang on to it with everything that you can. There's a line of people out there who would gladly change places with you!


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