- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

If we’re still in a recession, don’t tell 25-year-old Wayne Martin of Atlanta. Six weeks ago, he got a new job paying him $20,000 more than his old one. Things are looking up in his household.

Martin’s outlook on the economic downturn is more cautionary. He says he’s taking away lessons on what he can do to be prepared for the next time the country is in financial trouble. He and his wife of four years already were living modestly on his income while she finished college.

She’s graduating this spring. The Martins, who have two children, ages 4 and 1, are taking a vacation to celebrate. Martin found a cruise for $800 and was in the ideal position of being able to take advantage of a deal now that there’s extra money around.

He’s thinking the same thing about buying a bigger house. And he’s putting a handyman to work to make repairs around the one he owns now before putting it on the market.

“My situation personally is very positive,” he said. “But I do see situations daily that don’t reflect my own. So I look at this with mixed emotions.”

Many of his friends are in graduate school and aren’t so positive about their futures. A friend getting his law degree is headed to a major Atlanta firm that just laid off dozens of people.

“It’s a little dim in my circle,” he said.

Still, Martin said he believes things are getting better, and he has faith that the Obama administration will turn things around soon.

“Jobless claims are down, the Dow is up,” he said. “We can only go up from here.”

_By AP Writer Errin Haines

___

Walt Coffman, a 55-year-old retired teacher, works part time at an art supply store in Phoenix. On his day off, he was having a coffee, not a latte _ one of several little adjustments he’s made to save money.

“I think everybody’s just a little more aware. I’m a retired teacher as well so I have a weekly pension. I have a part-time job that seems secure. But I’m still aware of making major purchases just because of the economy the way it is,” Coffman said.

To avoid credit-card debt, Coffman is trying to pay for things in lump cash sums. He has put off getting new fans in his home in anticipation of summer in the desert. He’s also scaling back a planned vacation to Montreal and going to San Francisco instead. He does plan to get new windows and a roof for his house.

But he said those remodeling plans will hinge on whether the city of Phoenix gives him a grant _ money that people who live in historical neighborhoods are eligible to receive.

Coffman said he can’t remember the last conversation he had where the economy did not come up.

“Either somebody knows somebody who’s having difficulties or they’re having some difficulties themselves,” Coffman said.

He said he and friends are a bit on edge, but not pessimistic. He thinks six months ago, even nine months ago, the climate was much more uncertain. Coffman wonders if the plethora of recession-related stories in various media is what’s fueling any down-and-out sentiments.

Coffman thinks his age is one reason he believes things will turn around.

“Life as a whole, you have these roller coaster times. As you get older, when you’re down in the bottom, you always come up,” he said. “I look at the economy or the bigger picture the same way. Yeah, we’re down here now, but I can’t imagine things just staying there.”

_By AP Writer Terry Tang

___

Gabe Westheimer became a registered nurse in January. Despite his experience in the field _ he worked as an EMT before making the switch _ he’s been unable to find a job in his preferred area, as an emergency room nurse.

His wife, Kate, is a doctoral student with a National Institutes of Health fellowship but a limited income, and two more years of schooling left. They had budgeted for him to be without a job until April, but he’s up against his deadline.

“We budgeted for us to get that income now, but I’m still looking,” he said. “We sure would love not to draw on savings.”

The economic downturn has hurt the field he’s invested in, with hospitals cutting new nurse programs and imposing hiring freezes. More experienced nurses who might have chosen to retire are staying, and those who worked part time have moved to full time, squeezing out new graduates.

He remains optimistic he eventually will land a position in the nursing field he loves most _ on the fast-paced front lines of health care. But he’s starting to realize he might have to compromise.

Westheimer feels that like the country, he and his wife are building their foundation now, and although their finances, and the national economy, might be gloomy, things will improve soon.

“I have no worries about our long term prospects,” he said. “I trust that sooner rather than later I will land a job in the field I want to work in.”

_By AP Writer Juliana Barbassa.


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