The Recession Is Over? Not for Us

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Editor’s Note: Last week, CNN reported that the recession that began in December 2007 supposedly ended in June 2009. We asked young people if they have seen a significant change in their own economic situation and if they feel like their recession is over.

If You're Middle Class or Poor, It's Still Hell

The one question you’ve probably asked yourself a million times within the last year and a half is, “When is this recession going to end?” The National Bureau of Economic Research has taken the liberty of answering that question for you; they released a statement saying that the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. The good news is that they have proved that the economy is now growing instead of shrinking and is back on the recovery track; the bad news is that if you’re part of the middle or lower class, you’re still going through hell.

For those of you of the privileged class, your recession may be over, but mine goes on. My recession won't be over until I either graduate or drop out of college; Berkeley City College is doing a very good job of keeping me in perma-debt this semester. I’m lucky that I don’t have any bills besides my $50-a-month cell phone bill, even luckier that my parents don’t make me pay rent. But I still find it difficult to get by. Other than my parents keeping a roof over my head and my grandparents helping me through college, I have to pay for all my needs like clothes, food (when away from home), transportation, etc., and for everything that I do.

Money isn’t easy to come by, either; there are still very few job opportunities. Working has made things a bit easier, but I’m looking to get another part-time job to help me pay for school, get my car, and start saving so I can get my own apartment.

I try to stay on top of my money status as much as I can because being in debt flat-out sucks. To manage my money, every month I try is come up with a list of all the things I need to do, then add up the total and make sure I have that money in the bank. I try not to eat out too much, because food can be pricy; if I can help it, I try to wait until I get home.

When I do get my own apartment, I'm planning on splitting the rent with a few roommates . I also need to set aside some money for car insurance so I can start driving as soon as I get my license. For now, I'm going to start small and open up a savings account; I'm going to deposit a little bit of money in there each week and do my best not to touch it. Hopefully after some time has gone by, I'll have a good amount of money stored up so I can start laying the groundwork for my future.
-- Torriano Melancon

Learning to Manage My Money During the Recession

The reality is this: if you don’t work, you don’t eat. That means millions of unemployed people are hungry and homeless. Just two days ago, I was unemployed, flat broke, looking for ways to make a buck, so I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Luckily for me, I had my mom to rely on. Not everyone can run to their parents and ask for help. Honestly, I’m finding it harder and harder to come into any money, and that’s because jobs aren't hiring.

Back in 2009, I’d blow my money on clothes and shoes, but now I save every penny I can. Times are way too hard to just spend frivolously. You might have a job today but be unemployed tomorrow.

My goal for my money is to pay for college textbooks. I start community college this spring, and I need all the money I can get. I filed for financial aid, but in case it comes late, I want to have a backup plan—something I can totally rely on. Saving for a higher purpose is key to managing your money. I’ve worked 14 months, and all I have to show for it is a laptop and a phone.

I didn't save a dime, but that’s going to change. I’m going to work as hard and as much as I can.
—Sean Shavers

Obama Needs to Fund My Neighborhood

I don’t think that the recession has ended. I think it’s still going on. I have seen small changes in the economy, like Obama making new jobs for people, but I haven’t seen any new jobs in my neighborhood. I’ve only seen maybe one new store in the entire year. There are more businesses closing in my neighborhood, and the businesses that were once family-owned are empty. Not to mention there are a lot of people in my neighborhood who had to move out of the city because of unemployment and high prices.

For starters, I think Obama and the government should agree to open at least three to five businesses for every zip code. I think that will really make a change in the community, and the job market.

When I talk about jobs, I mean jobs that will provide people with advancement for future growth and possibility for getting a good income, like office jobs.

I personally don’t find it hard in this economy to come up with money because I have a part-time job at a parking lot and I make around $800 a month. I’m trying to get another job at a party supply store.

Also, I live in my parent’s house, and they don’t charge me much for rent. Rent in the San Francisco area is too high for one person if you don’t have a full-time job.

My goal is to saving enough to open my own shoe store or restaurant. Shoes fascinate me—the style, the color, the sole, the stitching, everything. I would like to open a store where new shoes meet old shoes. I would set it up so all the new releases were on one side and all the retro shoes on the other. When the Jordan Retro 11 Space James came out, everywhere in the world, the shoes sold out in the first day. I can only imagine how much money shoe stores make in a day.
—Jose Cardenas

Saving Money for My Son’s Future

Personally, I feel like the recession is just getting warmed up. The longer it continues, the deeper it seems to go.

People in the Bayview community don’t have enough money even to pay for buses. Who knows where they need to go or if it’s an  emergency? People don’t have $2 to pay the fare. And if you get caught riding without paying, you get a $75 fine, which you won’t be able to pay. And then if you don’t pay, more fines get added. More people are going down to the General Assistance office to apply for food stamps and other assistance.

 Personally, my money goes to my son. I didn’t have much to begin with, and I’m saving up. It was kinda hard from the beginning. Now my savings are worn down because of him, but I am not blaming him for my actions. He makes me better day by day. We teach each other.

 Because of my living conditions here in San Francisco and having to travel in Oakland because my son lives there, I am spending my money on BART, plus food when I get out there, or he might grab a toy when we go to a store and I might give in.

Right now, I have to pay my child’s mother’s siblings’ rent. I also have to think about wipes, diapers and other items that you can’t go without.

Most importantly, I want to send my own son or children off to college so they don’t have to suffer the pain of what I had to go through financially.

I did jail time; I lost a few friends and family members along the way. But all of it was to better my life. If we all are better off financially, then we won’t have to worry about our children going out and committing crimes; we won’t have to worry about the police knocking on our doors and asking where your children were last night.

 I just opened a bank account. I try to calculate what money there is for bills or expenses, or how many diapers we need for the month. The money that’s coming is the same money that’s leaving. I don’t never get to see movie time, restaurant time, going-out time; all my money is calculated.

My goal is to find a decent job that can bring in enough so I can move up the chain to better my living conditions and myself. I’d like to get a house or a decent apartment that’s affordable enough that I can keep saving. If I get a decent job, it could probably pay for my college tuition. Or if I can get a grant or financial aid to go to college, then I’ll be better off.
—Harris Cox, Jr.

What Will Happen When the Stimulus Money Ends?

It's easy for some experts to say the recession is over, since they’re not the ones being affected the most. Try asking a person like me, with no real source of income and a family to feed, or someone living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to take care of their family.

The recession is continuing to affect us in many ways—like education and crime. With all the budget cuts, nearly 80 Oakland police officers have lost their jobs. Schools and after-school programs have been hurt.

Even though the stimulus package passed by President Obama is nearly over, it was helpful because it did keep some people afloat. When there’s no more stimulus package, what are those people who are  unemployed again going to do?

I believe crime will definitely be going up, because without a job or something productive to do, there’s only more room to do something bad.
—Keith Anderson