Two Laid-Off Workers Forced To Tighten Belts

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Steven Silverman of Seattle and Cathy Storms of Rochester, N.Y., were hit in the latest wave of job cuts. They talk to host Jacki Lyden about life after layoffs.


Workers across the country are pushing back the kitchen chairs and sitting down with their kids to talk about what's next.

Mr. STEVEN SILVERMAN: We've started to look at all of the expenses in the house. We are cutting back on the phone line that I'm on right now. Actually we'll probably not be here for a while - we're going to using only our cell phones. I went to Costco last week and bought a number of things that will last a very long time, I hope.

LYDEN: That's Steven Silverman. He got laid off from a high-tech company in Seattle last Friday. He lives with his girlfriend, a working nurse in the city, and his daughter and her daughter, both in the sixth grade.

In Rochester, New York, Cathy Storms also had to sit down with her two middle-school daughters.

Ms. CATHY STORMS: I'm going to be home now, more than I was and, you know, they're upset, they're scared, they're worried about it.

LYDEN: When she heard the rumors that lay offs were coming to the Delphi Auto Parts plant, Cathy went downstairs to the labor relations office. At the plant, people are cut according to seniority, and people who started on the same day are laid off in reverse alphabetical order. Cathy found out that she was number 22 on the bump sheet, a list that had 25 people being cut.

Ms. STORMS: So, I brought in all the documentation. I changed my last name from Cathy Warrack(ph) to Cathy Storms, and I thought I was safe for at least another week to a month. So that next day, the bump sheet came out, 44 were on it. So, it kind of hit me like a brick wall.

LYDEN: That was last Friday, too. Storms is Cathy's maiden name, and she hasn't used it in years. She's officially divorced now and the family's sole breadwinner.

Ms. STORMS: I'm definitely going to be losing, probably, my house and my car, and just definitely downsizing a great amount in life.

Mr. SILVERMAN: Right now, my major expense is my home. I don't foresee that I will have to skip a payment on that for many months to the extent that I can stretch out my 401(k), but before the end of the year is up, if I don't have some decent flow of cash, we're going to be facing some issues there.

LYDEN: Steven Silverman's got his eye on the stimulus bill moving through Congress with billions in there for renewable energy projects. He's already got plans to start his own company.

For Cathy Storms in Rochester, New York, looking for work this week has been daunting.

Ms. STORMS: Every place I talked to, everybody has a freeze on their hiring or they're closing down. It's just crazy, it's so crazy out there right now.

LYDEN: One hundred thousand jobs lost just this last week. Buckle down for February. After the break, wrapping with the economic crisis from the Swiss Alps to Haiti. It's All Things Considered from NPR News.

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