Six word recession. Your stories mapped.

Numbers don’t tell the story of the Great Recession. Data give us a look from 30,000 feet. But it’s what you’re sharing from your vantage point in your neighborhood that really tells what’s happening.

A few weeks ago, we put the challenge out to you and sources in MPR’s Public Insight Network to sum up your life in this economy in six words. We’ve highlighted a bunch already. (You can add your voice here.)

Today, I wanted to try to make it easy to read the responses from Minnesotans in our Network who said we could share their stories and use their names.

Click on the map icons to read them.

Click here to see a full page version of the map.

Here are a few that caught my attention.

Twenty three. Still living with parents. Ugh. That’s how Matthew Porter of Inver Grove Heights summed up his Great Recession.

I’d wanted to move out of my parents’ place for a long time. My friend had offered to be my roommate in Minneapolis while he went to school at the U of M, and I’d said I’d needed to find a better job first. I went searching, and found this great $13/hr full time spot that did contract work for Home Depot, aced the interview, passed the drug test, etc.

I waited a good while waiting for that call to say I’m hired, consistently calling myself and pestering the poor man on the other end, until he told me finally that he’d just had to lay off about 20 people, and I wouldn’t be hired after all. I’ve done a few jobs here and there since, in the long run, I’m still stuck in my low-paying retail spot.

We ran into a number of folks in their late 50s and 60s whose retirement funds were torpedoed by the stock market drop.

Tough, very little promise of income recovery. Rich Huelskamp of Red Wing told us he worked for the state energy office until 2003 when he lost his job to budget cuts. He’s an energy efficiency and renewable energy consultant now but is still looking for full time work with benefits.

At the age of 58 it is looking unlikely that I will be able to have a regular, safe job. I am a part time consultant/contractor no benefits, moving into my unhealthy years, and no support system. Jobs that I have applied for end up hiring less experienced/qualified but lower cost hires. Frustrating yes, insurmountable, no.

Still working; No raises; Next year? Business and profits have dropped significantly the past 12 months, said Elizabeth Gilthvedt, a self employed optometrist and small business owner in Owatonna.

Still, she’s been able to keep all eight full time and one part-time staff “employed through a combination of great team work and paying attention to keeping down expenses.”

Unfortunately no one, not even the boss (i.e. me!), have had raises or made any production bonuses (based on increased sales & receipts.

We are continuing to work hard to enhance our patients lives by providing the best possible eye health and vision care and are staying optimistic about the coming year.

Jobs remains the critical issue for many Minnesotans. While our jobless rate is still below the nation, the state’s job growth is projected to lag our neighbors in the Upper Midwest.


We’ll get a better picture next week when state officials update the state’s jobless rate. When it drops, the lives of Minnesotans will improve and, hopefully, we’ll see these stories turn from struggle into hope.

Share your six word recession story with us now. We’ll add it to the map.

NOTE: Our efforts were inspired by SMITH Magazine’s ongoing Six-Word Memoir project.

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