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They were hit hard by the last recession. Now it’s happening again

The U.S. suffered a big financial hit during the Great Recession of 2008-2009. As the novel coronavirus pandemic yields another economic collapse, many of those people are losing jobs, businesses and investments again. Here are stories from four people who endured major financial hardship during the last downturn -- and are now facing the jarring reality that it’s happening a second time.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The economic toll from COVID-19 keeps accumulating to levels unseen in modern times.

    We are going to focus on that extensively and the debates over what should be done to ease the pain.

    We begin with the stories of people across the country out of work.

    Many suffered a big financial hit during the recession of 2008 and are now facing a major second blow.

    Here's a sampling of what we heard from viewers.

  • Melissa Ballowe:

    Hi, my name is Melissa Ballowe.

    I was the head baker for a small local chain of coffee shops. I am sincerely, desperately hoping that I can go back to the bakery once this all ends.

  • Dwinell Fenton:

    So, my name is Dwinell Fenton. We're a solar manufacturing company here in Odessa, right outside of Tampa, Florida.

    And March 25, I was laid off. I believe I have caught two financial downturns in my lifetime, which is only 35 years.

  • Rita Davis:

    My name is Rita Davis. I live in McKinney, Texas. And we have a store in the vibrant square of downtown McKinney.

    Our business opened in August. So we don't even have the longevity that a lot of our neighbors have. Our sales have gone down a good 95 to 99 percent.

  • Michele Dubois:

    My name is Michele Dubois. I'm 48. My husband and I live in Upstate New York.

    So, in 2008, I had just come off of maternity leave. I returned back to work. Six months later, I was laid off. I wasn't furloughed. My job was eliminated. Fast-forward 11 years. I was accepted with the same company again.

    A pandemic happened, and my job has been furloughed, with several other people. It's a little bit of a nightmare all over again.

  • Dwinell Fenton:

    The financial crisis of 2008 was — it was tough. My father and I bought a home together. I believe we paid $104,000 for that home in 2000 — in January 2008. And, by 2009, the same year, it was worth a fraction of the $104,000.


    So, I have my fingers crossed that it's not going to get much worse than this.

  • Rita Davis:

    We did have — opened a business in 2008-2009. Kind of — we signed a lease, like a five-year lease, like two days or a week before the bottom fell out, and there was no way we could get out of that.

    So we had to move forward, and just hoping that the next time that we decide to do something like that, that that's not the situation that we sign onto.

    But, lo and behold, here it is. You know, we're seven months into it, and kind of the bottom has fallen out again.

  • Melissa Ballowe:

    When I lost my job in the 2008-2009 recession, I got absolutely no support whatsoever regarding my federal student loans.

    I would say that it was a nightmare, but that's probably an understatement. I got calls all hours of the day. My family got calls. My friends got calls asking me — or asking how I was going to pay, when I was going to pay.

    Over 10 years later, I finally felt like I had rebuilt myself. I finally felt that I had started over again. And so here we go again. Like, what do I do now? How do I rebuild myself after this? I don't know yet. I don't have an answer to that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We thank you all for your voices.

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