Sunday, February 15, 2009

Portrait: Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake is not one of those cities that people flock to. Its easy to be a big fish here because it is the small pond most speak about when using cliches. We tend to be behind on most things and the economy is one of them. We haven't had the housing crisis. My parents are still successfully flipping houses. The one area we are feeling the crunch is in the job market. Here is my story....

I became pregnant with my beautiful daughter after knowing my boyfriend for 3 months. When we met he was a county firefighter and because he was with the wild land division his job ends in October of every year and starts up again in March/April. He started looking for a job and did not find anything until March of 2008, almost 6 months after firefighting ended. He was only able to find employment at a restaurant/pub so that was bringing in little money. He was unable to go back to the fire crew summer of 2008 due to the birth of our daughter. He found another job that was a 3 hour commute each way with a 8 days on 8 days off schedule working with a youth wilderness program. I had an emergency c-section in Aug 2008 and he lost his job because he had to report for duty 3 days after our daughter was born and I was pretty much immobile. He then did not find employment until October of 2008. I have been supporting us with my part time job at Continental Airlines and my student loans. I am currently making a whopping 8 dollars an hour and being held to 20 hours a week. I did not get paid maternity so that was just another blow to our finances. I am currently 75,000 into my student loans and am delaying graduation until I can find a job that will pay me more then my current student loan payment of 1000.00 a month. Considering what I will pay in childcare (I currently work at home during the night so when my baby is sleeping) most jobs will not pay me enough. Because I work for the airline industry I have had to survive layoffs twice in 2008. At any moment I can lose my job and will have to go back on food stamps because my boyfriend only makes 1200.00 a month at his job at a youth rehab. I am know looking at the prospect that my student grants will be cut off due to my state's budget issues which cut higher education grants as well as increased tuition... this will put me into repayment of my loan. Forget trying to save anything because there has to be a remainder from the bills to put into savings which there just isn't any.

I voted for Obama because I am looking at grim prospects. I am 26 with a child and have a bleak future. My college degree is worth nothing (double major political science and history). I can not go to law school as planned because of the loan freezes. I don't know which way is up and I am trying to be productive member of society but its hard when the economy just keeps kicking me down.

I am disgusted at the way my state handles taxpayer funds. Just last week I saw on the news that although the legislature had to cut 1 billion out of state programs, they are going to start a legal fight to challenge Roe v Wade. The reporter suggested that it will cost at least 10 million to get to the Supreme Court. When I look at my representation I know that I am not the future. I am the "liberal" and therefore my opinion and job are not worth the fight. I would move but with what money? what job?

Its hard not to be depressed in these depressing times.

Salt Lake City