INSIDE OUR ECONOMY: Layoff leaves family with only single wage-earner

Two tall teenage sons, both of them still growing, make for a pretty hefty grocery bill in the Southward household.
Groceries are about all Gloria Southward’s weekly unemployment check covers since her layoff earlier this year from Ripley Industries in Iuka.
Her husband, Johnny Southward, manager of Iuka Furniture Outlet and an alderman, must cover all of the family’s other expenses until she is rehired or finds other work.
“We’ve definitely had to pull back on some of the spending for the boys,” she said.
Martin, 15, and Jonathan, 14, are active in school athletics, and she liked having a schedule that allowed her to attend their games.
“The job was only 10 minutes from home and I liked the people I worked with, so I’m hoping to be called back to work there,” Gloria Southward said.
The plant fabricates metal parts for Caterpillar’s heavy equipment, and its fortunes are largely dependent on what is happening with that company. Current workers continue to experience periodic short-term layoffs whenever Caterpillar announces work slowdowns.
While her husband has insurance, she has been left without it, but hopes the state Children’s Health Insurance Program will begin covering the teens.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

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