Our Great Recession 2.0: The 1,000-Mile Commute

Submitted by Jen Jones on Wed, 03/03/2010 - 9:25pm

Our Great Recession 2.0: The 1,000-Mile Commute

If you’re reading this, odds are you’re considering bankruptcy. As such, you have a lot on your plate. Yet, what might make you feel a bit better about being bankruptcy bound is the knowledge that you’re not alone. Millions of average Americans just like you are facing desperate circumstances as they struggle to stay afloat in the wake of this decade’s Great Recession—facing foreclosure, job insecurity, rising costs and, of course, insolvency.

In the series, Our Great Recession 2.0, we’ll delve into some of the more unique stories of this decade’s unprecedented economic downturn, allowing you to see familiar faces and dire places people are going in order to handle the financial meltdown head-on.

In part one of this ongoing series, we meet GM autoworker Michael Hanley.

Hanley, who recently shared his plight with The Huffington Post’s Sharon Cohen, is known to commute 530 miles in a day, from his home in the rolling hills of Wisconsin to his job in Kansas—all to keep a paycheck rolling in. As Cohen reminds us, “It's one heck of a haul:” more than 1,000 miles roundtrip, 16-plus hours of driving, every week. "I like to say I gave up an eight-minute commute for an eight-hour commute," he tells Cohen wearily.

Hanley’s commute is representative of not only one man’s tough choices in a tougher job market, it reveals the near-death of the American auto industry as a whole.

After his GM plant shut down a little over a year ago, Hanley could’ve chosen to stay close to home, and his family and search for an autoworker's salary ($28 an hour) in his Wisconsin county “where more than 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs disappeared from 2006 to 2009.”  Instead the 23-year veteran of the auto industry chose to hang on to a better GM paycheck and his family’s health insurance, following the job to Fairfax, Kansas.

Even before his factory went idle, Hanley took steps to make himself a stronger candidate in a shrinking employment market, getting the college credits he needed to complete his accounting degree. But when Kansas came calling, along with the health insurance to keep his wife on chemotherapy, Hanley “didn't hesitate. Auto work these days is like playing musical chairs. You grab an opening where you can.”

"There's no way I could possibly go through one treatment without him having insurance," Hanley’s wife told HuffPost.

Balancing his family’s financial security at his coveted job and the lonely existence of being away from home is hopefully a temporary sacrifice for Hanley. He plans to commute for an additional 18 months, at which point he turns 50 and hopes there will be a retirement package waiting.

"There are those people who worked there who have lost something they thought would be around forever and provided them with a real good lifestyle," he adds.

For Hanley, it’s all about riding out his own Great Recession.

If you’ve been driven out of your job and are in serious debt, knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can also help you to conquer your creditors and face your financial fears, yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— for a viable and secure future beyond our own “Great Recession.”  The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to +1-919-646-2654, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.

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