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6 degrees of sequestration

The sequester cuts and a steelworker’s job prospects

Kai Ryssdal May 2, 2013
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6 degrees of sequestration

The sequester cuts and a steelworker’s job prospects

Kai Ryssdal May 2, 2013
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Among the 7.5 percent or so of the American workforce that’s out of a job is a man named Richard Crowe.

He was laid off from a steel plant in Eastern Ohio last May, after 30 years on the job. Since then, he’s relied on unemployment benefits to get by. Now, since the sequester cut his unemployment checks, it’s a tighter squeeze. 

“It just pounds you,” he said. “Any little bit hurts. The longer you’re on this, the further back you fall. We don’t do hardly anything we used to do when I was working.”

Like many families on a reduced budget, the Crowes have stopped dining out, dropped cable TV, and cut out day trips. “My wife likes to go to Amish country, it’s about an hour away. We’d go out there and spend the day,” Crowe says. “You cut a lot of things out of your life —  spend a lot of time at home.”

Crowe is still unemployed, but that could change in about two weeks. He’s slated to start work at a plant that makes coke, a fuel used in steel production. He’ll have to pass a physical exam. And the plant is an hour’s drive from Crowe’s home. But the income and ability to qualify for the company’s medical insurance would make a big difference.

The pay is “not as much as I made before,” Crowe says. “But it’s comparable. It’s worth going the 55 minutes.”

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