A few days ago, a Floyd Countian told me he would lose his job if Volvo cuts any more employees.
"I’m near the bottom on the seniority list," he said. "You know the rule: Last hired, first fired."
On Tuesday, Volvo announced it will cut 650 jobs at its Dublin truck plant. Other Floyd Countians will lose their jobs as well. Corning announced it will trim 3,500 jobs at its plants, including their operations in Christiansburg. A number of Floyd Countians work their as well.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve talked to more than a dozen county residents who either lost their jobs since Dec. 1 or expect to lose them in the coming weeks. On Monday, 70,000 employees lost their jobs nationwide. Few expect to find new jobs in the immediate future. Nobody’s hiring.
Goodyear will close its Radford plant Friday. Most Circuit City employees lost their jobs when the company hired a liquidator to sell off remaining stock and lock the doors. One was a Floyd County High School student who worked at the Roanoke store on evenings and weekends to make money for college. More than 100 retail businesses — large and small — have closed or announced they will close in the Roanoke and New River Valley since Christmas.
The layoffs will ripple through the county and place strain on already-overstressed resources. Carl Ayers at the Floyd County Department of Social Services expects an increase in applications for assistance and food stamps. Businesses face declining sales because people don’t have money for even basic staples.
I see it in clients who used to pay on time but now take longer to settle up their accounts. A city government that owes me money from a job completed back in October cites "cash flow problems" as an excuse for not paying.
Floyd County has a strong barter economy where services are exchanged for services or food or necessities. That could be a salvation for some unemployed workers who can put their skills as a carpenter, electrician or mechanic to work for those willing to barter.
New President Barack Obama warns we should expect things to get worse before they get better. The news this week confirms that warning.