Students stave off recession

Faced with a climbing state unemployment rate and record job loss of 62,600 in the last 12 months, reduced hours and second jobs are the latest concerns in the already-busy minds of UH students.’

‘I had a lot of other things to worry about,’ marketing senior Mai Le said. ‘Last thing in my mind (was) filing for unemployment.”

Although the Texas Workforce Commission’s Web site ( provides links to Unemployment Insurance information, Le said filing for unemployment was a job in and of itself.’

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas predicted a loss of 296,000 Texas jobs this year. General Motors, Microsoft, IBM, and Walt Disney are just a handful of the major American employers expected to announce layoffs in 2009.

But layoffs aren’t the only cause or concern. Students and their families are having their hours reduced at work.’

Music senior Gail O’Brien said her mother is working different shifts, causing her to readjust her sleep schedule, which has left her exhausted.’

‘Instead of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., she has to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,’ O’Brien said, ‘and now she doesn’t have the time she used to have to take my older father to his doctor appointments.’

Martha Chavez, a retail promotion and apparel merchandizing senior, said her hours were reduced at Bath and Body Works.’

‘At first I was fine, but now I’m a little worried about the future,’ Chavez said. ‘I was helping my mom pay for household bills, but now things are getting tight.’

Chavez said she needs a second job, which will add pressure onto her responsibilities to school.’

Former graphics technology junior Bill Conant shares Chavez’s sentiment about working while in school. Conant said working 40 hours a week while in school led to his disenrollment from the University with a 0.6 GPA.’

He was laid off from his job as an archivist for an engineering firm in January.’

He said he appreciates a break and will use the time to look for jobs and reflect on what to do next. In the meantime, he’s living on a limited budget with his parents at home.’

Conant said he looks forward to returning to school.’

‘I’d like to get a degree and do something other than moving boxes for the rest of my life,’ Conant said.’

Even students with degrees are finding it hard to cover their expenses on one job.

Hotel and restaurant management alumna Alexis Hoey said she cannot fulfill her obligations with only one job.’

‘I was working at The Down Town Club, where 50 percent of my income is off commission, so I had to get another job to keep living the way I do,’ Hoey said.’

She said she resorted to to search for another job to make ends meet.’

Fortunately for Houstonians, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Texas’ unemployment rate 34th highest of the 50 states. Texas was ranked 28th a year ago.

‘There were three cities that gained jobs in 2008 out of the 39 major markets in the country, and they’re all in the state of Texas,’ ABC anchor Charles Gibson said in an interview with KTRK Channel 13’s Cynthia Cisneros.’

Gibson said during past recessions, people who lost jobs in one city stayed and looked for a job in that area, but now people realize the economy’s situation is bad enough that they move to find an opportunity.

‘For now, people have been able to find work here and find that there is a greater energy,’ Gibson said, ‘and I think probably a sense of optimism here.’

Although she starts her workday at 4:30 a.m., Hoey said she is glad she is in a city where at least some employers are still hiring.

‘I’m thankful that I have the life I do,’ Hoey said. ‘I not only have one job, but I have two jobs.”

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