The basics: Mother, 32, in the process of a divorce. She is white and works as a secretary at an area corporation, earning about $27,000. Separated, cut off from support by her husband and a year before her divorce is settled, she lives with a son at her parents’ Akron home. Day care costs her $550 a month.
How do you keep a lid on your spending? “I try to avoid stores. I don’t go shopping. I just avoid those things all the time because I don’t want to tempt myself because I am going through a divorce and had to make major cutbacks. You find what’s really necessary and what you really need and there are so many things you don’t need. And having a 4-year-old who wants everything. You just find what he really needs and you find the simple things. He just loves little rock things. Things at the Dollar Store. We have a treasure chest. So when he earns 20 stars, he gets to pick something out of the bucket instead of constantly getting things all the time.”
What are people talking about? “That they can’t afford to save for retirement. They are living less than check to check. They are not making enough at their jobs right now. Those are the big ones. That they can’t make enough money. …They are scared to death, that they have no financial security. They are very worried. … They are always looking for other jobs or a second job. A lot of my friends are going back to school so they can earn their degree so they can get better jobs. … No one has any time. They are always rushing everywhere and are very stressed. They are worried about money, worried about their family. They have no time for anything, just a constant stress.”
What is happening to the poor? “I would say it’s definitely shifted. They are getting a lot more poor. They are worse off than they have ever been or it is more visible than it ever has been. You definitely notice it more.
How about the middle class? “It seems to me that it is disappearing, or you just don’t notice them as much. You see the people who are extremely well off or you see the poor. It doesn’t seem to be as noticeable with the middle class.”
And the wealthy? “It seems to be they are getting more and more wealthy. I don’t know if that’s what you notice more, but it definitely seems they are getting more and more rich.”
What group are you in? “I don’t want to say I am poor because there are people doing worse off than me, but I am definitely down there, obviously living back at home with my son, struggling where I can’t pay my bills right now. I’m lower, but I don’t want to say I’m poor, but lower.”
America Today project seeks citizen input
This project opens journalism to a two-way street. In the hope of learning what you’re thinking and getting citizens more involved in our stories, we’ve added an interactive experiment: We are offering you an opportunity to answer some of the same tough questions we are posing to citizens in the America Today series.
In addition to the traditional Ohio.com comment page, the newspaper is partnering with the Civic Commons, an online organization that encourages respectful and informed debate of tough issues from a variety of perspectives and experiences. Below are the two opportunities to express yourself on these questions:
How did we as a nation get in trouble economically?
Whom do you blame?
How do we as a nation solve our economic problems?
What are you doing differently to get through the downturn?