Coping with the new economy

Cutbacks, prioritizing and repositioning are new buzz words
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Accepting job furloughs, questioning priorities and taking “stay-cations” are some ways locals are adapting to the new economy. Passage of a furlough plan this week would add Del Oro High School teachers to the list of employees accepting cutbacks and reduced work days to save jobs and balance budgets. The teachers are participating in a district-wide union election to determine if they will accept a two-day job furlough for the upcoming school year. “I think the furlough will pass,” said Mike Reader, a Del Oro math teacher and the school’s union representative. According to Reader, the furlough will save the district $350,000 by converting two teacher in-service days to unpaid holidays. Besides accepting furloughs and pay cuts, the new economy is also requiring workers to re-examine their priorities and decide what is most important to them. “People are going back to basics. They talk about playing board games at home with their families. They’re looking at what is important to them. This is bringing families closer together,” said financial consultant Judy Steele Morgan, of J. Steele Investment Management. Morgan said she sees a lot of clients who’ve lost their jobs, fear losing their jobs or have had their benefits and retirement plans cut. The Loomis resident said she’s been having more “life talks instead of money talks” with her clients. During these conversations clients tell her what is important to them personally, professionally and financially. She sees her role as helping them find a balance. Jeanne Duvall, a Loomis architect and project manager, joined the ranks of the unemployed last spring when the home-building company she worked for started cutting staff. The business, John Laing Homes, has since filed for bankruptcy. Duvall’s unemployment benefits have run out, but she said she finds consulting jobs here and there and recently took classes on sustainable design (green building) in hopes of repositioning herself when the economy picks up. “I’m continuing to look for a job, but there just isn’t much out there right now,” she said. Nadine Hopping, of Loomis, said her family is “not in a crisis mode, but nothing is very certain, so we have to be careful.” She and her husband still have jobs. She works at Nelthorpe’s Appliance in the parts and service area. Her husband works in plumbing supply sales. Hopping said her children are learning a valuable lesson during the economic downturn. She said she is helping them decipher the difference between a “need” and a “want.” “Do we really need this right now? What is a true need and not just a want?” she said she asks her children. Hopping said the family of five is cutting back on some of the children’s sports and this summer will take a “stay-cation.” They plan to stay home and do more local family activities. “One good thing about the bad economy is it’s slowing people down. We were all so busy running ourselves and our kids all over the place,” she said. UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES Placer County 10.9 percent Sacramento/Roseville 11.3 percent California 11.2 percent United States 8.5 percent Source: As of March 2009 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics SERIES: THE ECONOMY MAY 7: How individuals are coping in the new economy. APRIL 30: Local businesses are getting tough and being creative. APRIL 23: The housing slump offers opportunities for some buyers. Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of three stories on the impact the economic downturn is having in the Loomis Basin.