The Park Record Editorial, Jan. 28, 2009 | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record Editorial, Jan. 28, 2009

Layoffs are not statistics, they are real people

Monday’s national news reports were littered with yet another litany of layoffs Caterpillar Inc. announced a force reduction of 20,000 jobs, Home Depot said it is cutting 7,000, Sprint Nextel — 8,000, AT&T — 12,000, General Motors — 2,000 and on and on.

Add seven at The Park Record.

We have already reported on a smattering of layoffs at the local ski areas, and we’ve heard rumors of more in restaurants, property-management firms and lodging companies. Still others have told us their hours have been drastically cut.

But the handful of empty cubicles at The Park Record and at Murray Printing in Salt Lake City have brought it all home for us.

Like other companies in and around Park City this season, at first we managed to stave off budget shortfalls by attrition when employees chose to move on. Over the last few months at least five jobs have not been refilled.

And, for first time in many years, we have told two employees their jobs were being eliminated due to the economy.

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Suddenly 20,000 at Caterpillar and another 7,000 at Home Depot are not just numbers they are hard workers, family breadwinners, water-cooler buddies and carpool mates.

Over the next few months we will continue to report on how the economy is affecting the residents and businesses of Park City and Summit County and we wanted to be transparent about the newspaper’s staff reductions, as well. We are in this together.

Many of those who live in Park City today have only known the town in times of growth and prosperity. But some of us have seen the town fall on hard times before. There was the dot com crash in 2001, the stock market slump of 1987, the real estate dip in the mid-1980s and the snowless winter of 1976-77. And, of course, the blackest Monday of all, Oct. 28, 1929.

Which reminded us of one of our favorite reporters, Studs Terkel, the author of "Hard Times: An Oral History of The Great Depression."

"Hard Times" is a compilation of first-person accounts of that era, when Americans were losing their jobs, their homes and their confidence. People lost fortunes in a day, many stood in bread lines and some committed suicide. But it was also a time when communities banded together to support one another.

In one of the last interviews Terkel before his death last October, and as the country was teetering on the brink of another economic crisis, he was asked what lessons could be gleaned from the Great Depression. According to his interviewer, Alex Kotlowitz, Terkel said, "Don’t blame yourself. Turn to others. Take part in the community Once you become active helping others, you feel alive."

That sounds like excellent advice for all of us.