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Hard Times

Pete Springer/OPB

For the first time in almost a year, Mike Rust has a line on a job. He lives in Burns and lays natural gas pipeline around the West. But he’s been out of work since last October. Now he’s heard from a friend who’s going down to a job in California that there may be more work there. Mike is sixty one, so he is hoping to land work as a supervisor. But if he has to tote 90 pound bags of sand again, he will.

Mike is one person OPB News has been following in our Hard Times series. We’ve decided to bring Mike and two other Hard Times folks together for a Labor Day special to talk about how this economy has affected them, and what they hope the future brings.

Ben Perrins isn’t just out of work, he’s out of a home to call his own. His most basic hope is stability:

All I want my kids to do is go to school, play, and be kids. I don’t even want them to realize we’re in a recession. And if I can do that and keep a smile on my kids’ face by handing them an ice cream or a popsicle or something, it makes my day.

And Angie Blackwell dreams about getting her new business off the ground, even as she searches for a full time job. She also hopes an uptick in the housing market could help her get out from under her mortgage.

Angie’s husband still works, so she doesn’t think her family will end up like Ben’s with no roof over her head. And she does have health insurance, unlike Mike. But still, she says, these difficult times are a mixed blessing for her: returning her focus to the importantance of friends and family, while at the same time pushing her back down towards poverty, which she thought she’d escaped.

This program was pre-recorded for the holiday so we won’t be taking phone calls. But please tell us here how these times are affecting you. And if anything is getting better.

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