Yes, my husband is still employed
We live in the Phoenix area, which, for about a year and a half, saw a HUGE boom in the real estate market. There were various theories about why it happened, but it seems that many of the buyers were investors from California and Las Vegas, looking to cash in on Phoenix’s affordable housing market, and locals doing similarly.
Things went blissfully for a while, folks buying and selling homes left and right, making HUGE returns on their investments, in only a couple of months’ time. Houses took an average of (I think it was) 21 days to sell, and many would sell within hours of being listed on the MLS. We ourselves sold our last house at the very peak of this period, in only eight days, for more than double what we’d paid for the home only 2 years previous. That was about 2.5 years ago.
Since that peak, the market has plummeted. Average sell time is now around 100 days, and I personally know many people who desperately need to sell their home, who’ve had their house on the market much longer. The foreclosure rate is skyrocketing. Many people are having to “short sale” their homes, selling for less than the original purchase price.
And, my husband works for a new home builder.
All new home builders have had to scale their operations way back. Many are currently selling their new homes for at- or below-cost, simply to attempt to stay afloat on the market. There have been massive, industry-wide employee layoffs, and many builders — even large ones — are in danger of bankruptcy.
My husband’s employer, Shea Homes, has even had some pretty piercing layoffs. We’ve been asked countless times, by concerned friends and family members, “How’s it going at work?” In other words, “So, you gonna get canned?”
So far, though, it appears his job is safe, many thanks to God. We attribute it to these reasons:
- Shea is solid financially. They are the largest privately-held homebuilder (and one of the largest privately-held companies at all) in the United States. Since they don’t have stockholders, they are free to make financial decisions solely based on what is best for the company and for its employees; they don’t have to worry about giving investors a return on their investment. Temporarily soothing investors has caused many a company to make decisions that salved the short-term and sabotaged the long-term.
- My husband has been there for more than 15 years. In that time, he’s held a variety of different jobs, making him very flexible, and very valuable as an employee. If his own department (architecture) is slow, he can contribute in a number of other capacities. He also has a fantastic relationship with his boss, whose tenure at Shea is even longer than my husband’s.
Oddly, due primarily to the construction slowdown, my husband is SLAMMED at work right now. He’s busier than he’s been in years. Since he’s the primary in-house home designer, and semi-suddenly, Shea has now great need of smaller, more affordable housing, well, guess who has a whole lot more design work? As he’s exhausted, and as we all miss him due to his increasingly long hours, we’re also very thankful that he’s still employed.
There have been cut-backs at Shea — fewer corporately-provided lunches, fewer employer-sponsored business trips, smaller (or nonexistent) payraises, and other money-saving policies. My hubby was informed a few weeks ago that he wouldn’t be getting a Christmas bonus.
That was a disappointing blow. With the historically generous bonus, we are yearly able to buy Christmas presents, pay for projects around the house, pay off any credit card balances, make other large purchases… and we just won’t be able to do any of that. We had to tell the kids that their Christmas was going to be marked with VERY few, very small gifts. We briefly explained the situation, and expressed our thankfulness that Daddy has a job at all, let alone a bonus. They were disappointed, but took it rather well, I thought.
We’re seeing that, even in lean times, God still provides. Just this week, Martin was told that he would be getting his 15 year anniversary present, and given a catalogue from which he could choose. We were surprised about that, because his 15th anniversary was back in February, and we’d assumed that, given the financial climate, he’d just not be getting one. One of the gifts is a Visa giftcard with a cash balance on it. Now, that balance is only a small fraction of what the bonus would be, but still, we will be able to at least get our kids some presents, and maybe some for family members and friends, too. Bless God.
So, Martin is still employed, and God is still taking care of us. 😀