The Washington Post sent Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Michael Williamson and reporter Anne Hull to Youngstown and Warren recently to document how the recession is affecting former steel towns.
The pair found newly shuttered businesses and former industrial workers struggling to stay afloat in lower-paying, more-competitive, service-based economy.
The story begins at Uptown Gems where working class people come to sell their valuables following layoffs or pay reductions.
“At campaign time, they are celebrated as the people who built America,” Hull writes. “Now they just want to know how much they can get for a wedding band.”
This is the type of story I’ve been hoping to see about the recession: a story that details the suffering of the poor, who seem to have gotten lost in shuffle.
“In this corner of northeast Ohio, from Warren to Youngstown, where the old steel mills along the Mahoning River stand like rusted-out mastodons in the weeds, the recession was a final cruelty piled on top of three decades of disappearing jobs.”
A recession begins with Wall Street bankers with seven-figure salaries. Now, former steelworkers in Youngstown and their kids are going hungry. That’s the cruel irony of our economy. Youngstown, Pontiac, Flint and Cleveland are blameless in this recession, but these are the places where the pain is the worst.
Good work Washington Post. Thanks to Tyler Clark of Youngstown Renaissance for pointing this out.