Jobless who do find work face big pay cuts

For many Americans who lose a job, the reality is that in this economy, even when they get back to work, they'll earn less money. CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers looks into one man's situation.

At age 52, machinist Jerry Repas is getting up speed on his first day at a new job at Specialty Metals Processing in Stowe, Ohio.

"I feel so good about myself today, just to be starting work," he said.

Repas had been out of work for two years.

"This is the way it's been going for me," he said. "Thank God I finally found a job."

He's lived on unemployment benefits and in cheap motels ever since he lost his $55,000 a year job in the auto supply industry.

"After I lost my job, it all went downhill from there," Repas said. "I got a divorce, lost my house."

This new job couldn't have come at a better time. But it pays eight dollars an hour less than Repas used to make.

Pay cuts for returning workers is common in Ohio where 102,700 manufacturing jobs were lost in the Great Recession. Many of those jobs used to pay up to $25 an hour. Today, they pay about $18 an hour.

Mike Miniea is Repas' new boss.

"We have limits to what we can pay," he said. "If we find skilled workers that can operate one of our machines, they're not coming in here at $10 an hour.

Miniea's wife Becky helps run the company. She says some unemployed workers are holding out for wages that are no longer available.

"There's really a standoff," she said. "People have decided they're going to stay at home until the right job comes along. It's not about just going back to work. It's about waiting for the 'right job.'"

Jerry Repas accepts he may never earn what he once did.

"I want to work," he said. "I'm so out of shape and feel crappy with myself. And just being back to work for one day, I felt so good, so much better with my life and myself."

For him, regaining his pride matters almost as much as the paycheck.

  • Cynthia Bowers

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