ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
I'm Melissa Block, and this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
SIEGEL: News travels fast, but business travels faster. In good times, one new job here can help create another job over there. In times like these, job losses reverberate throughout the economy and they remind us how connected we are. Take last week's layoffs at Caterpillar Tractor: 33-year-old Tina Bajic worked at CAT's Mossville, Illinois plant, polishing truck engine crankshafts on the third shift, making, she says, about $30,000 a year. Thursday night, she went to work and her supervisor delivered the bad news.
Ms. TINA BAJIC (Former Employee, Caterpillar Tractor): He said this is about the hardest thing he's ever had to do. But, you know, this will be the last time we'll be working. And, actually, you're laid off as of right now, so, collect your things and meet me at the door to turn in your badge. And that was about it.
(Soundbite of a baby)
SIEGEL: I think I'm hearing through the phone someone who's been depending on your income from Caterpillar.
Ms. BAJIC: Definitely, yes. I have three boys, so they depend on me. I'm trying not to worry about it. But…
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIEGEL: But, she is a single mother. And the Caterpillar layoffs are gong to hit her household twice.
Ms. BAJIC: My oldest son's father, he worked at CAT, too. He's getting laid of too. And, you know, he pays me child support, so I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to be getting when he gets laid off. So that's going to affect me.
SIEGEL: For now, it'll be unemployment checks and belt-tightening.
Ms. BAJIC: I'm going to have to find ways to cut spending, I guess. Not eat out as much, that's for sure. And it's also disappointing because my car's not doing real good right now.
SIEGEL: Tina Bajic says she would have bought a new car. That'll have to wait. And, as she said, going out to eat is now out of reach.
Which brings us to Tammy Cox of nearby Peoria, who has just lost two jobs, which earned her about $30,000 a year, she says. Neither of them were at Caterpillar, but both indirectly dependent on the company. At one job, she tracked Caterpillar parts.
Ms. TAMMY COX (Former Employee, DHL Global Forwarding): I was employed just recently through DHL Global Forwarding. But, because of Caterpillar, they had to lay off employees.
SIEGEL: And, at the other job, she waited tables at a Mossville restaurant and bar that depended on Caterpillar workers - a place called Building G.
Ms. COX: The Caterpillar workers used to, if they wanted to go have a beer or a get together with their friends, they would say that there was a meeting at Building G.
SIEGEL: Tammy says that after a promising start last summer, the restaurant found that Caterpillar workers were cutting back, and business at Building G slowed to a halt. Just as the recession has claimed her restaurant job, her being out of work threatens jobs at businesses that she patronizes.
Ms. COX: I don't go out shopping anymore. I don't go get my hair done like what I used to.
SIEGEL: Her hairdresser, she says, is probably leaving town, anyway. One thing Tammy Cox will continue to do?
Ms. COX: I shoot pool a lot in different leagues. And we were all getting ready - because in May we go to Vegas…
SIEGEL: But that's a…
Ms. COX: …in the national tournament.
SIEGEL: Big national tournament - which you have - you're a past champion.
Ms. COX: Yes. In '97, I was women's national eight-ball champ. But now, I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to go in May because, you know, having to pay for a flight. And, I mean, I usually use my income taxes. But now, I've got to worry about the bills being paid before I can justify going to Vegas.
SIEGEL: And just between you and me and a couple of million people who might be listening: Does the pool produce any money on the side, a little bit?
Ms. COX: It can. At least it's cash.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. COX: If you win in a major tournament, yeah.
SIEGEL: Well, maybe, you know, as soon as the sun goes down you can hit the pool hall and get some - scare up some action.
Ms. COX: Well, that's where I was yesterday.
SIEGEL: Okay. Okay.
Ms. COX: I was trying to yesterday. I only made $10, though. It wasn't very profitable.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIEGEL: Okay. So, Tammy Cox could be a scratch for the big May tournament at the Riviera Resort in Las Vegas. If she passes up a trip this year, she will hardly be the only missing customer at the Riviera.
Mr. PHIL SIMMONS (Chief Financial Officer, Riviera Resort): It's been challenging. It's tough for us. It's a destination resort out here. And people are just reluctant to get on the plane and travel to Las Vegas.
SIEGEL: Phil Simmons is the Riviera's CFO. Riviera's stock over the past year? From a high of over $24, it's now trading for less than $4 a share. The Riviera has been renovating its rooms. But last year, to save a few million dollars, they stopped work on the last tower that was due for a makeover. Also, they laid-off workers.
Mr. SIMMONS: I think we're consistent with other gaming companies in town, as far as layoffs go. But we've definitely pared down the workforce.
SIEGEL: By about how many jobs - or how many positions - do you figure?
Mr. SIMMONS: I don't know off-hand. But, we have had to cut labor, which is our largest expense, to offset substantial revenue declines.
SIEGEL: Now, we just met one woman who would participate in an eight-ball tournament at the Riviera. She's not going, which obviously is a loss of one customer. But, do you have cancellations of entire events this season?
Mr. SIMMONS: We've had some cancellations, not too many, but there have been some.
SIEGEL: With resorts like the Riviera laying off and cutting back on contracting for the renovation project, Las Vegas, which has been one of the fastest growing cities in the country, is taking a hit. In fact, one symptom of the city's troubles, Las Vegas is one of the hardest hit places in America when it comes to foreclosures. And it's hard to see how folks there can pay the mortgage - or the rent - if people like Tammy Cox, in Peoria, don't come to play pool, and if people like Tina Bajic don't go out for supper in Mossville, Illinois.
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