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Tales from a White Collar Recession

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A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job. (Anonymous Economist)

Last week, a friend of mine was laid off at her law firm. It sucks. With three kids in tow and a husband who is an entrepreneur, it will be hard for her to make up for that loss. Firing the cleaning lady, laying off the nanny, and eating mac-and-cheese isn’t going to cover the missing six-figure income. 

Another friend of mine, in her mid-fifties, just got laid off from the world’s largest software company. She is the lead breadwinner in her family and has made a lot of dough in the past. Her husband has been Mr. Mom most of their married life due to a serious, ongoing (but manageable) illness. She has two teenagers, one in a swank private school and the other heading off to college shortly. It sucks.

Houses are popping up for sale in our coveted white-collar neighborhood like pimples on a teenager. It leaves me to wonder, “Is everyone getting laid off?” It rattles my nerves to hear the stories about well-educated, well-heeled friends (and friends of friends) who have been given “pink slips.” They are people like me who thought that somehow they would be sheltered from the economic downturn.  

The talking heads on the networks and cable stations are advising people to “retrench” and “hunker down.” Let me remind you … these are war terms. With mortgage payments equaling 50 percent of a household income … people may have to retrench or hunker down in a different neighborhood.

I know Obama and his peeps are saying this is a recession but when I see my hard working neighbors putting their houses up for sale because someone lost a job it makes me wonder if it isn’t a little worse than we’re being told.


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