Licking County Man Laid Off from Three Jobs in Four Years

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Rising unemployment is a key indicator of a deepening recession. Job losses are expanding throughout blue collar and white collar sectors, and the faces of those without work are the faces of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers.

One Central Ohio man found himself downsized out of three jobs in four years.

Since 2004, Ohio has lost 67,000 jobs in manufacturing. Three of those jobs were held by Licking County resident Greg Waller.

Until 2004, Waller worked for a company then-called Total Image specialists. In his 24 years there, Waller says he went from an entry level position to running three departments. He was laid off four years ago along with about half of the company’s employees.

Waller is 47 years old and had been laid off two additional times since 2004. After working for so many years, he says it was difficult to come to grips with not having a job. It was even more difficult to apply for assistance. He calls that hurdle “the pride issue.”

“I was used to having the nice cars,” says Waller, “and going out to dinner anytime I want.”

He says the drop in income was an even larger adjustment.

“I went from $50,000-$60,000 a year in ’04 to unemployment now which doesn’t pay a whole lot.”

Waller lives with his mother in a house he built for her. He is divorced and shares with his ex-wife residential custody of their three children. His 14-year-old daughter is a special needs student. His younger son is a high school sophomore, and his older son is a freshman at Ohio Christian University. Despite being without a job since September, Waller says he is paying for his son to attend college. When he talks about his children, Waller shows the emotional impact of the changes he has endured during the past four years.

“They understand, they worry. They know they have to do without a little bit more. They’re good kids, very supportive. I’m very lucky, very blessed.”

Waller’s voice cracks with emotion as he says, “When my oldest son comes home from college, he comes to dad. That means a lot.”

Waller says he worries about what the future will be like for his children, but he says it’s the role of a parent to offer support and encouragement.

“Teach them they can be anything they want to be. My dad taught me that. But in this economy.I’ve been laid off three times since ’04.”

Waller says one of his relatives works for the federal government. Since manufacturing jobs seem to be leaving Ohio, he plans to move toward a government position to, in his words, better himself.

In Ohio, the number of federal jobs increased by a whopping 400 in a single month, from September to October of this year. If that increase can be sustained in this economy, perhaps one of those jobs will have Waller’s name on it.