Recession Revelations: How Has Your Life Changed?

Another recession story (and side bar) coming your way Monday.

Following news that Kitsap’s unemployment rate in February reached a record high, my editor asked me to revisit individuals and social service agencies profiled in our September story on the recession to see how they were faring.

The county’s unemployment rate shot up to 8.8 percent in February, a record since 1990 when Washington’s Department of Employment Security started collecting local data. So-called “gateway agencies,” already booked with recession-related cases and pinched by their own budget woes, are seeing an increased demand for services from people who have never had to ask for help before.

In summary, the agencies are feeling the strain, and some say the community’s “safety net” is starting to look more than a little tattered. But the agencies, with a new found solidarity, are learning to cooperate better with one another to enhance services and avoid duplication. Doing more with less — it’s all the rage.

The people I talked to said their brush with near economic ruin — including impending foreclosure — has transformed their lives for the better, even though they may never regain the level of wealth and economic stability they enjoyed before the recession.

“It isn’t really what I wanted to do per se,” said Moler of Suquamish, who is driving school buses on Bainbridge Island. “As it turns out, it’s been such a blessing.”

Doug Haskett of Silverdale, also is grateful for the job he found — even with a step down in pay — after demoralizing months of unemployment.

“You adjust, you adapt and you overcome,” he said. “It’s a matter of perspective. … This is the way things are meant to be. I’m content. I look forward to going to work every day. Things are the way they are.”

How has your life changed as a result of the recession? Be honest, what stinks about the new normal? (Moler admits she really misses the ability to buy whatever she desires.) On the flip side, have you, like Moler and Haskett, found yourself stronger, happier, calmer, whatever? Share your thoughts in the comments below or e-mail me at chenry@kitsapsun.com.

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