Thu September 15, 2011
'Stagnant': Checking In On The Economy In Chillicothe, Ohio
The economic indicators may all say that the United States is out of recession. But what is it like in the real world?
NPR's Robert Siegel traveled to Chillicothe, Ohio. Robert had visited in the fall of 2008, when the unemployment rate was 8 percent; he travelled there in January of 2010, when it was 12 percent. Today, it's 10.4 percent.
What Robert reports from this trip is mixed. He spoke to the top three employers. The Kenworth Truck plant is doing well: Pent-up demand means they're making more trucks and have added 1,000 jobs. The same is true of the local paper plant.
One place that hasn't recovered is at Adena, the local health care system. Mark Shuter, the president and CEO of Adena, said in May of 2008, 40 percent of the people they served had commercial insurance; that number is down to 29 percent now, so people putting off care.
How deep did the recession cut? Shuter said deliveries — as in births — were down 30 percent during the recession.
Robert also sat down with three Kenworth workers: Joyce Underhill, Mike Miller and Rob Call, who are all in their 50s and have salaries in the 50s.
Underhill told Robert that things haven't gotten better. She said she feels, like they are "stagnant." All of them said they were grateful for good jobs and good times at Kenworth, but they also said looking at the economic pain around them keeps them cautious.
Perhaps, a sign of how things have changed comes from something Miller said. He said he worries about his mother who is on a fixed Social Security income. He asks her if she's doing alright and she says yes. But then he walks to her refrigerator, opens it up and finds, "you don't see the things you think should be in the fridge."
Much more from Robert will air on today's All Things Considered, so tune into your local NPR member station. We'll add his piece to this post later today.