Stark County, Ohio is feeling the pressure of a down economy. Rising unemployment rates and financial hardships are leaving a sour taste in mouths of many voters in this crucial electoral battleground. The Real News spoke with residents of Canton, Ohio to assess the impact of the current crisis.
Ohio voters hit hard by crisis
JESSE FREESTON (VOICEOVER), TRNN: Ohio’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.4 percent in August—its highest in 16 years. The Real News traveled to Stark County, Ohio, to gauge the severity of the economic crisis in this battleground state, which may once again determine the election.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Things ain’t real good around here, especially in Ohio. It’s been like this for about six, seven months at the very least—no job, living around on food stamps, having to [inaudible] center for money to pay my bills. That’s about it. Everything is a ripple effect: something closes, something else closes down. You know, it’s just the way it keeps on doing it. A friend of mine just was talking to me. He does, like, day labor stuff. Heck, he wasn’t even able to work last week because of stuff—and that’s day labor, you see what I’m saying? So that’s just—.
INTERVIEWER: Have people been laid off? Or did you know people that—?
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Laid off. Fired, if you want to call it that.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: My father, he was working at the Hoover Company. And I don’t know if you guys heard about that, but the Hoover Company got shipped to China and Mexico, so he lost his job. And now—he was making, like, I don’t know, 20-something dollars an hour there, and he was barely supporting our family. Then we have a six-person family. And he can’t find a job that’ll pay that around here anymore, so he’s going elsewhere.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: We need more jobs. We keep sending them out to other countries. You know, I know a lot of guys that have been working factories for 30, 40 years, and then someone’s gotten up, “Sorry. See you later.” You know. Like, my grandpa worked at the Ford Company here in Canton for 35 years now, threatened to take his pension away from him. You know, he has no way to make money. He had a stroke. He can’t work. You know, my grandmother has medical problems—she can’t work. My dad can barely afford, you know, feeding the family. It’s like, you know, what are you going to do for middle class? You know, the rich people are all fine; the guys that make good money, they’re all fine. What about poor people or the middle class, blue collar, whatever you want to call them?
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: No, on a personal level, I can’t really relate to that, I mean, relate to the fact that I’ve had any family members that have lost their positions, although in my position in banking I know a lot of clients that are having some tough times.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Several of my friends, you know, they’ve got laid off and everything. And, you know, they’ve had to move in with families to kind of reduce on payments of whatever they have to do. Several people had to file bankruptcy that I know. Some people has lost their houses, you know, for foreclosing and everything.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, and I see many people every day getting hit by this economic crisis. People are hurting right now, yeah, and they’re scared to spend money. I think in the stores you’ll start seeing more and more sales trying to give things away, ’cause my reaction or my observation is that people don’t have the same money, or if they have it, they’re afraid to spend it right now.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: I mean, it’s harder to get jobs. I know people that got their social security cut off, and it’s kind of hard out here for people right now.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Because of the gas prices, everything’s so high. Food’s gone up. I mean, everything has gone up. And, you know, everybody’s got to be worried about their jobs.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: I think everybody’s been affected. It all depends on how you let it affect your mind and body and soul. And, I mean, you know, it doesn’t bother me a bit. I mean, God’s in control of everything, so I have no worries.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: I know of some people that worked for Wachovia, I know people that worked for WaMu, and I know some people that worked for Lehman Brothers. My future son-in-law, he was a hedge fund dealer. Of course I can’t give you his name, but it hurt him really bad. I’m not involved with the stock market anymore. I liquidated all my stocks and bonds and 401(k)s and stuff, and I’m glad I did. And I did this about five years ago when the market took a plunge. You know, I made—especially in the tech stocks. I had a lot of tech stocks, and I lost a lot of money on the tech stocks. So we liquidated what we had, and we just went ahead and cashed them in and paid taxes on them like anybody else would, and we’re out of it altogether. So it really didn’t phase me that much. You know. But these young kids today that are coming up that know right off that they’re not going to have a retirement plan, you know, social security and that—. I think I’ve been one of the lucky ones, you know, that I didn’t lose my life savings. You know. So now we’ll see what happens.
INTERVIEWER: Have you decided who you want to vote for?
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Actually, Obama.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Obama.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: Obama.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: That’ll be Obama.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: John McCain.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: The one who’s on the side of God the most: McCain.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: I believe I would vote for Obama.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: I’m going to vote for Obama.
STARK COUNTY RESIDENT: That would be Obama and Biden.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.