It's the waiting that drags you down.
With our unemployment rate edging near 10 percent, many are waiting for companies to finally rehire. I can imagine them shaking their heads when they look at the Dow's ascent in recent weeks. Somebody's making money, but it certainly isn't them.
I'm not sure if welder Charles Salak has been paying attention to the Dow, but he's been busy with home improvement projects, occasionally working for a relative, repairing farm equipment. He isn't sitting still. In August he was laid off from Katana Summit, a wind tower manufacturer in Columbus, Neb. The company had no choice. Katana is awaiting the go-head for a 200-plus tower order. Wind energy is capital-intensive, so even today, with the promise of government help, it takes time to get the green light. If and when Katana finally gets the go-ahead for the order, Salak may get his job back. But for the past few weeks he's been waiting.
New York Times reporter David Segal visited Columbus and used Salak as the centerpiece for his article, which appeared yesterday on the front page of the business section. Segal also visited Behlen Manufacturing, a metal fabricator specializing in farm products, machine tools, and custom fabrication. Especially poignant was Segal's description of idle equipment on Behlen's plant floor. Tony Raimondos Jr., son of the company president, gave the reporter a tour of the expansive, 850,000-square-foot shop floor. (If you need space, Nebraska has it.) Riding with Raimondos on a golf cart, the reporter recalled:
"Every minute or two, you come upon a couple of guys who are galvanizing metal or fabricating tubing. Mostly, it's quiet.
"'We're hopeful,' says Tony Jr., driving past an unused ... steel punching machine. 'But it's really strange to see it look like this. The other day I looked through this window in a door to the factory floor, and it was dark. During second shift.'"