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Letter: Harsh economic impact reminds us of past woes

First, anytime anyone loses their job and livelihood it is just terrible. I lived through it myself. Because I was a union official representing the office and technical workers of the United Steel Workers at Bethlehem Steel I was immune from the devastating layoffs in the 1970s and 80s.

However, my father and brother were both clerks at that time and I had to sign their separation papers, as well as hundreds of others. Many a sleepless night ensued.

As I write this the unemployment rate is close to 15% and is expected to rise higher. Current TV pundits liken this to the numbers of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Let us not scare our young workers with such a false comparison.

First, during the 1930s around 85% of households had just one breadwinner. Those were the “dark ages” where the man worked and the wife stayed home and raised the children.

Until World War II when “Rosie the Riveter” emerged women for the most part worked only as secretaries, nurses, teachers etc. Also, less than 100,000 received unemployment insurance payments. Social Security didn’t pass until Aug. 14, 1935 as well.

This is much worse because of the pandemic, no doubt, but as far as the economy goes we can only hope. Let us pray it ends soon.

Timothy B. O’Shei

Cheektowaga

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