DeWayne's World - Bad times, these aren't them
The recent news of layoffs at Caterpillar does nothing for holiday cheer.
Cat, on Dec. 18, notified 814 production employees at its Mossville engine assembly facility they would be indefinitely laid off.
Local consumer confidence, according to recent survey, was getting weaker even before this announcement.
According to Dr. Bernie Goitein, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Bradley University, the consumer confidence level fell to 69.2 on a scale of 120.
Only 27 percent of local respondents labeled the local economy as good or excellent, down 10 percent from the 37 percent who responded the same six months earlier.
The current figure is down 30 percent from the 57 percent figure recorded a year earlier.
But, I know one young man who views Peoria as an economic oasis. His name is Dustin.
He was born in Pekin, but spent a good part of his life growing up in Peoria.
Dustin is 25. I’ve known this kid all his life. He has a wife and three children.
Recent times have been tough for Dustin.
Several years ago, he got married and decided the grass looked greener on the other side. He took his family to Bloomington, Ind.
But, the lure of more adventure hit. He and his family moved again.
Dustin now lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
He moved there with his family a couple of years ago. He was attracted by what appeared to be a great place to live after a visit.
After all, there is an ocean. There is moderate weather, much better than found here in Peoria or Bloomington, Ind. What’s not to like after a quick glance?
The problem is one thing his Dad did not successfully teach this boy, is that quick glances can be deceiving.
With that in the back of my mind, I read with great interest a story in the Dec. 22 issue of the New York Times. It was about Charleston S.C.
“This city in the center of South Carolina is an ideal listening post ... this metropolitan area came closer than any other to being a microcosm of the nation over the last decade,” wrote Peter Goodman.
“This is now an unfortunate distinction. Some 533,000 jobs disappeared from the economy in November, the worst month since 1974. In South Carolina, a government panel is predicting that the state’s unemployment rate could reach 14 percent by the middle of next year.”
The allure of South Carolina has worn off for Dustin. He has only been able to find work at a temp agency. The money is dismal for a family man.
He calls home a lot. I’ve heard the despair in his voice.
It hurts him to ask me for help.
He has come to the realization he made a big mistake.
“I never should have left home,” he has said several times.
Here, at home, being so close to the good news about our economy, despite the Caterpillar situation, is sometimes hard to see.
Local political leaders and businessmen have recognized that fact.
There is a TV ad campaign underway right now featuring the mayor. He talks about a self-fulfilling economic prophecy.
That’s something I’ve been editorializing about for six months.
I’ve been writing every good economic story I could find in Peoria in the past six months.
No one had to prompt me.
I was here in the early ‘80s. It’s not that I have my head stuck in the sand.
It’s about not standing by and letting the bad news create a self-fulfilling prophecy in Peoria.
As one who has never lived more than 50 miles from Peoria, I have seen the bad, bad times.
These aren’t it.
We have an economy today that is truly diversified. We have it a lot better than the early ‘80s.
Just ask Dustin.
He’s living a Peoria-type early ‘80s scenario in Myrtle Beach.
And, he can’t wait to get back to Peoria. There is an important message there.