American Morning

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March 9th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Would you move 1000 miles for your job?

By Bob Ruff, CNN

(CNN) – What would you do if your company closed its doors, but offered you the same job 1000 miles away?

In December 2008, in the depths of the recession, GM worker Steve Kerl faced that same question. Just 8 years from retirement, his GM assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin was shut down. 1,933 workers were out of work.

“What are we going to do?” was Kerl’s first reaction. “Are we going to have our health care? How are we going to come out? We didn’t even know if you were going to have a job.”

Most of the Janesville plant workers took buyouts. But 545 of them were fortunate enough to be offered jobs at other GM plants. The catch? The plants are hundreds of miles from Wisconsin.

What would you do?

Kerl took a job putting fenders on GM SUV’s in Arlington, Texas. It’s hard work. At the end of his 10-hour shifts he goes back to bunk with two other GM workers in a three-bedroom apartment near the plant. Home is 1000 miles away.

Kerl’s wife and two teenage kids remain behind in Janesville. The Kerls didn’t want to take the kids out of school. And they couldn’t face the prospect of selling their house anyway with real estate prices plummeting.

The Kerl family, along with many others who worked at GM in Janesville, is yet another side of the recession. Families physically separated by economic circumstances beyond their control. The sacrifice is palpable.

“In the last couple of months, “ he told us, “I missed all of my daughter’s gymnastics meets. I missed her birthday…I missed my boy’s birthday. So [these] are things you’re never going to get back. You know, that’s gone.”

The sacrifice is spread evenly throughout the family.

“Steve will talk to me on the phone,” his wife, Kristy, told us, “and, you know, get me through it. Hang in there. And then there’s the days that calls come in that he’s like, you know what, I’m not doing this anymore. You know, I want to come home. And I’m like, no! Hang in there!”

Jenessa, their teenage daughter, says it’s “really hard…I mean, what other 16-year-old doesn’t want their Dad around? He’s always been the one that’s at the meets, and always there for support. “

Jeramie Kerl, 19, is their son: “When Dad left I kind of had to assume most of the responsibilities that he did, the outside work…mowing the grass, which he took care of.”

In the midst of all of this, the Kerls have literally opened their Janesville home to the 16-year-old daughter of another former Janesville plant worker and his wife, both of whom have moved to work at an Indiana GM plant. Steve introduced us to Grace, who is Jenessa’s friend. Everyone wanted Grace to be able to finish her sophomore year before moving to Indiana.

“We like to have her here,” says Steve.

As we finished the interview with the Kerls, Steve told us the separation has been too much. They’re moving to Texas. The house just sold, at a loss, and they hope to be together near Arlington before the end of the summer.

As we watched Steve pack for the long trip back to Texas, we saw him trying to figure out a way to squeeze a hunk of Wisconsin cheese into his packed suitcase.

“This will always be our home,” he said.

“You’ll never take Wisconsin out of us,” added Kristy. “We’ll return some day.”

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (384 Responses)
  1. American Joe

    BOO-HOO This is what's wrong with America. Stop looking for pity and handouts and just be productive. Be thankful he has a job in the greatest land on earth. Sacrifice is part of life. Grow up and be a man.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm |

    I know how you feel my husband works in Baton rouge la and I live in fort worth texas he works for fema and we dont know when we get to see him ... we have 6 kids and 6 grand kids... so we understand how it is to miss your kids growing up and you do what you have to do...

    March 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  3. Robin

    Many families endure hardships. Sorry, but I'm not moved. My husband travels constantly for business. He is gone over 200 nights a year, and I've lived with it for 30 years. He has missed plenty of school activities and such, but you know what? His job and mine put food on the table. You do what you have to do.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Kanon

    Amy: You talk like you have it all figured out. Janesville is literally turning into a ghost town. With no jobs there and no one wanting to live there, it's next to impossible to find a renter or buyer for the home, much less another job there. You know what's REALLY misleading, a worthless president fighting to push a worthless health care bill through while Americans continue to lose their jobs left and right.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  5. SFC Glenn Kozak

    I've been a full-time Army Reserve Soldier (AGR) for almost 21 years. My wife and I have lived in six states and recently moved our 7th and last time. It's tough being away from family and friends. We made the choice to stay in the Army, and my wife supports my career choice. I'm very thankful for a good paying job and great benefits, especially medical. The retirement will be nice too. My grandpa came to this country from Czechoslovakia over 100 years ago with one suitcase and a few dollars in his pocket. I agree with Becky. Stop whining and make your own luck! This is still the greatest county in the world, and the recession will be over soon. Telling ourselves over and over how bad things are will not make them any better. It just adds fuel to the fire. Take time every day to thank God for what you do have.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  6. Vilma

    After eight years living in Miami, Florida, the company I worked for went belly up. For 2 years I could not get a similar job. My husband and I moved back to San Antonio, TX, and fortunately I found a job quickly. You have to go where the jobs are. Unemployment here is lower than in other states.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  7. Mom22

    To those serving the U.S.: First, thank you. Second, you knew what the job entailed when you enlisted: deployment, odd and long hours, danger and sacrifice. I certainly appreciate what you're doing, however, the point of the article was the fact that this family (and countless others) weren't prepared to choose the life they now lead and many feel they have few options other than essentially abandon their families for a paycheck. As a member of the armed services you and your families have access to support groups, housing options, benefits and (hopefully) a sense of pride, honor and accomplishment in what you do. Putting bumpers on a car and doing that for 10 hours a day while knowing that you are needed at home isn't the same thing.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  8. Dan B

    It's amazing how many people commenting have similar stories. Of course, there are also those people (glancing @Sherry) who just want to do the "me too! me too!" motion to make sure everybody knows that they have it hard too. I'm amazed at how foolish people sound on this comment bored, just so desperately vying for a shred of the attention which has been cast on the Kerl's in this story.

    The bottom line is, lots of people are in "crappy situations" right now and the Kerl's are indeed a glum & tough case. I commend this family for the tough decisions and would also like to let all the whining insensitive babies on this message board know that they are special too, as they jump up and down, making sure we all know how hard they have it too. Self-absorbed people...

    March 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  9. dominic

    Is "commute" really the correct word to use? Perhaps "relocation", or "temporary relocation" would be better suited. CNN sucks.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  10. Evan

    Why was Jeramie not mowing the lawn and helping out his parents prior to his dad's job transfer? He is a 19 year old adult and should be helping his parents.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  11. John

    This is crazy! Housing in Texas is cheap and I'd rather live in Texas any day over the frozen depressing tundra of Wisconsin.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Sanjay

    My hats off to you Sir! You did because you had too. I have been doing this for the past 11 yrs because I am a military spouse. I have a graduate degree and always find it difficult to find jobs with my kind of qualification. You see most of the military base are in remote areas and there is not many employment for us husbands. The worst time when my wife was station in Guam and I had to stay behind in Dallas Texas.
    So much so my resume also shows that I have been moving from one state to another and this is a big problem when companies see this it is a red flag! I have also been unemployed most of the time because of this. I hate it! but service to our country is a Noble thing to do and I keep on going. Once I found a job and had to drive for 4 hrs a day! The other option was to rent a room and come back during the weekends. I did that too but it was financially expensive.
    Anyway good luck to you sir and gods bless.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  13. Patel

    There must a TAX BREAK for expance incurred on long commuting. There no tax break for this in 1040. That's the biggest impact as you can probably commute if there is no tax on travel expance.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  14. michelle

    This story is nothing new. Growing up, my dad periodically had to go out of state to find construction work. It was part of life. As an adult, my own husband had to work out of the town we live in for about two months, and he currently commutes 1 1/2 hours one way so that he can have the higher paying job. We adapt. This goes on all the time, even without a bad economy.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  15. james

    Are we supposed to feel sorry for these folks? The guy's got a job, and apparently it pays pretty well or they wouldn't have undertaken the separation to keep it. They're A LOT better off than a lot of people.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Elsa Benavidez

    Well welcome to my a member of a working migrant family , that's all we knew was to move to where the work was and we didn't make what GM pays..we survived and are better people for it..(even though some Anglos think otherwise )...

    March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  17. Steve

    In the last 7 years I have lived in IN, TN, IL, back to TN, TX, and now Qatar because of school and work. My wife and I do this because it provides our family with opportunities our parents could not provide us. Our goal is to keep the family together, sure we both miss our hometowns, but our family is together. Move the families if you can stop these crazy commutes, your hometowns will always be there. Moving isn't a scary thing, people have been doing it for thousands of years. If I never moved, I never would have met the love of my life.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  18. ryan

    the title is misleading

    March 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  19. RJ GIll

    What is outrageous is that it is much more common than people think. People leave their families on Sunday nights/Monday mornings and come back Friday nights (if they can) mentally, physically and financially drained.

    There is no tax deduction for the extreme commuting and all those costs (hotel, food, taxi, plane are absorbed by the individual). Families are being disrupted and torn apart (there was a time that the American Family was the bedrock for the American worker)

    The government is helping all different groups, but those that are trying to stay employed and take care of their family are getting NO SUPPORT.

    What incentive is there for a person to do this other than pride in oneself, one’s craft and being responsible to their family……but apparently in America, that’s not rewarded. These people could sit back and collect unemployment but wont and the government should help people transfer, absorb or deduct commuting costs etc.

    Where is the support for the American worker that is trying to DO THE RIGHT THING???

    March 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  20. Chris

    God Bless you Steve!!! You did what you needed to do to get by in a tough situation. I am happy you will be back with your family.

    This story hit me hard. I am glad I am not in the same situation, it would be hard to be away from my family.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  21. Tim

    Most of these GM plant workers have never had to work outside of the town they were born in. Never went to college after high school and were given great wages and benefits for jobs at the plant with no qualifications. Welcome to the real world. It isn't like the old days where you retire with the gold watch after 40 years at the same company. Used to live in WI myself. Taxes too high, weather stinks. Moving our family to the south was the best thing my family has done. The kids have grown and become more independent having to make the move.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  22. ryan

    i commute 4 hours everyday for work, no big deal

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  23. BMW

    Metrolplex has affordable new housing, great food and lots of activities. After a year they will not want to leave. I'm one of the few who moved out of dallas for a job.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  24. Michael

    I think it's funny that all you people say this is no big deal. tell them to suck it up, and it's not new news but you go ahead and tell your sad story like we care.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  25. Tim

    Now you may understand the life of a military member. Long deployments and family seperation is a fact of life. Suck it up, you get no sympathy from me.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  26. David

    Nicholas> Should put a LOT more govt workers and politicians out of work.
    Nicholas> Should shut down immigration and hire A LOT more border patrol agents

    You're contradicting yourself here. Border patrol agents are government workers. So on the one hand, you say they should be fired. On the other, you say we should hire more.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  27. Casieopia

    I feel for this family and all others especially military families. I currenlty live in PA and commute to Washington, DC daily. I do this for several reason most importantly because we were determined that our son go to a good public school but also grow up in a great neighborhood. York PA offered both. The stress of extreme commuting does take a toll however, the alternative would be much worse.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  28. Cat

    I admire this family GREATLY. I think they made the right decision, both to stay a while and to eventually move. Sometimes to get by you have to make tough decisions and are apart from those you love. It shouldn't be that way, and it stinks for the thousands of others who've faced similar predicaments, but I feel they did what they had to do. It's a shame he missed his daughter's gymnastics meets and was apart from his wife and other children. I think it makes sense that they finally sold the house, even at a loss, and are reunited in Texas. They did the long distance thing for as long as they could, and now, with even more sacrifices, they're at least together, starting a new chapter in their lives. I know it's hard on the kids, leaving all their friends behind, but at least they are at or near college age, and would likely be away from home anyhow. To the people criticizing this man and his family becuase their situation wasn't worse? Be ashamed of yourselves. Painful situations come in all shapes and sizes. What's easy for one may be difficult for another. Who are we to judge? I still admire them, and I'm sure through it all, they were thankful for his new job and for what they have. It sounds like that was the angle CNN was taking.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  29. Teresa

    God Bless to all of you who have to leave their home! I pray times will get better and you can return. I can only imagine how it must feel to leave what you have only known as home. I would be scared to death.
    Many prayers to all. Teresa, Texas Residnet.
    PS! Beware of the heat guy's. Especially if your from the North! Oh My It Get's HOT here!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  30. Mj

    I can empathize with this family, but know that military families know this life all too well. Not enough space to comment properly to everything it entails. Because of what I put my own children through while I was on active duty, I moved to the Pacific Northwest when my daughter deployed to Iraq. Tried to help out with her family while she was deployed. Now I'm paying out of pocket expenses to commute back here from NJ to continue with an obligation I made in Washington state. Being with my grandchildren was the best thing I ever did. In the midst of this recession, we have the opportunity to find out what is really important to us.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  31. reality check

    who cares?
    I am unemployed as well. I went to a top 15 undergrad, top 10 law school, and worked for one of the biggest law firms in the world for just over a year before being laid off. I have scored in the top 1% of every standardized test I have taken. I have applied to over 2,000 jobs for which I am qualified (1-2 years of experience). I have no career, no future, and thousands of dollars in school debt. I have done everything right in life and am completely screwed, saddled with debt that is non-dischargable in personal bankruptcy. Cry me a river.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  32. Liz

    I'm not unsympathetic, but why is this NEWS on CNN? It is not uncommon for people to be offered positions that require relocation during downsizing. They made their personal decision to not take their kids out of school to relocate, that maintaining their home base was more important than keeping the family together on a daily basis. There's no injustice here, no extraordinary hardship, nothing uncommon. Why is it news???

    March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  33. Patel

    From blow to Lucent Technology in 2002 I lost job in Holmdel NJ and took a job in Washington DC commuting 350 miles. I had a team mate there who commuted from North Carolina to that same office. This was a real commute as it was defence company and can't work from home. Missed my daugher's first Birthday. 6 month later changed job to commute 90 miles one way every day. now commuting 9 miles one way. Never moved but changed jobs. STAY HOPE FULL for the better. EVERYBODY will get it someday.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  34. mike

    I live in NYC and commute by plane to DC every day. You got to do what it takes!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  35. Shane Bruegger

    Its called a transfer. Just sell the house and move. I have laughed at people since day one that think a house as an investment. Pack it up, sell it and move. Housing is cheap in texas. Stupid story.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  36. Chuck W

    I do empathize with the family but not too much. Construction workers have been doing this for years. I know that is by their choice. However, Mr. Keri made his choice to stay with the company. I had been traveling for years for the construction company where I use to work. For years I and my family made the same sacrifice and it was our choice. I did not have a choice when the economy went in the pits and I was laid off from my superintendent job. I would have gladly kept traveling instead of losing my home and going into bankruptcy.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  37. BillFromConnecticut

    I wish I would have the luxury of a 1000 mile commute. I commute 3000 miles between Southern Oregon(where I work) and Connecticut(where I live). Luckily my employer allows me to take a week off each month to return home. In return, I work 12 hour days for three weeks and have no life whatsoever in Oregon, except to eat, sleep and work. Fortunately, I make enough that I can afford to maintain dual residences and can afford the air fare. The commute, though, is exhausting, as I typically arise at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning to begin my commute from Oregon back to Connecticut, spend 14 hours flying back to JFK, then catch a limo from JFK to Connecticut, getting home at 1:00 AM the next day. Sometimes I feel like a migrant worker, albeit a well paid one. There's really not much difference between following the crops as a migrant and being an engineering migrant worker, except of course the pay. On my travels, I meet many people who commute, for different reasons, from coast to coast. I guess times being what they are, you do whatever you have to to survive.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  38. Jim

    This is not a new thing , what about the military families that have half way around the world comutes. Merchant seamen, truck drivers CNN give me a break. This guy just wants to keep his pension and is betting it will be there when he retires ( if I was him I'd think again..).
    He has the choice of reinventing himself and follow a different path(go back to school, find a different Job) or follow GM to ruin...

    March 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  39. Flip side of the Coin

    Just going to say, How is this different that what many "illegals" have been doing for so long? Shouldn't we feel badly that they have left their entire lifestyle, community and families behind, because there is no good work in Mexico?

    I applaud those that make ends meet despite the situation they are in. Its rough, I come from a family that always was moving, and when I was a child, I even forgot who my father was because he had been away so long working in another country.

    BTW for all you potential racists, I'm white, middle class and a hard worker.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  40. Jennifer

    These people embody the American spirit. This is an amazing lesson they are teaching their children on working hard and not accepting a handout. Eventually this will payoff for their family and they will be back together again. It would have been just as stressful if he would have taken the buyout and then had to look for work and probably not find something in the same pay/benefit range while the money is running out. Way to hang in there Kerl family.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  41. Marissa

    We just relocated over 1000 for my husband's job. Left everyone behind and a house on the market. Gotta stay together as a family. That's the only thing you have when everything else fails.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  42. Casey Blase

    That's what our society has become. We expect the lower half to be able to change careers at the drop of a dime, and locations and everything else. How many people in the production sector are having to be retrained to learn a new job.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  43. txleadhead

    Can't feel sorry for someone that makes the type of money he does.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  44. KM

    This is news?. My husband has commuted from Dallas to Detroit weekly for 10 years? We make it work–you have to get creative.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  45. JimB

    Why is this news? happens in the military all the time

    March 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  46. Doug

    I got laid off three years ago and now I work from Home. My comute is as far as my computer is or smart phone. Yes sometimes I go to work in my underwear.

    I never took unemployment. Ask me how I do it

    March 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  47. donnie

    Maybe CNN should look up the definition of commute.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  48. robb

    Of course this is news to the liberal left media as they have so consumed (along with the administration) to pass a Health Care bill 75% of USA doesnt want........great ploy to direct attention away from the number of jobs NOT CREATED by the stimulus that America was promised......Along with that i would loveto see the tax structure in those states where business leaves regularly.....they tend to raise taxes on the businesses and then they lay-off workers or leave altogether to go cheaper tax states....I feel terrible for this guy as would hate to miss either of my daughters birthdays or sporting events........Lets see how Obama deals with this...i am sure he will say govt health care and raising taxes will help!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  49. txleadhead

    No Freedom of Speech.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  50. Ryan

    This is the problem with the USA. Everyone is bitter, desperate and overextended which causes you to work out of need vs. desire.

    My advice to all you americans – come live the good life in Canada where we care for everyone else and pay a bit more taxes but live a much better quality life!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  51. Brian in Alaska

    All I see here is a guy whining so he can retire. I have to pick up my family every couple of years and move to a new job. Not to mention I have to leave them for 12 months or 16 months at a time so all the other American's can continue to speak english. Thank a veteran today.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  52. Casey Blase

    I wish someone would ask me to move for a job, instead I keep getting asked to move for unpaid internships! When will companies stop getting free labor from unpaid interns!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  53. Amy

    The title is misleading – it's not like he commutes 1000 miles to work everyday or every week. This is called a 'transfer'. And what's the big deal. In many jobs, people get transferred all the time. I know it's hard but this family should just rent their house and all move to Texas or he should try finding a job back home. When my father got trasferred, he lived on his own for 2 years until we all were able to move.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  54. Greg from VA

    Tough it up not seeing your family for weeks at a time. Try being in the Military and having a family. Some guys haven't seen their family in over a year. At lease you get home.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  55. Kara

    I feel for these people, my husband and I are in the same commute boat. However, I praise those willing to do what has to be done to make a living. If more people were willing to travel to the work, there wouldn't be so many foreclosures now, would there? You gotta do what you gotta do!!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  56. David Fountain

    You do what has to be done.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  57. Becky

    Am I supposed to feel sorry for his situation? what was the point of this story. The guy has a job. What is there to feel sorry for. So he had to sell his house at a loss. Many people have had to do that. It is called life and it was never promised to you as being fair. He and his family made the decision to live and work in different states. No one made him do it. I have been there, done that, and in the end it was my decision. I don't want anyone to throw me a pity party. We all need to stop whining and take responsibility for ourselves and make our own luck.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  58. expatchicagoan

    I was working as a consultant in Chicago a couple of years ago. The company where I was consulting told me that the position was being made an employee position, and I could have it, but it was in Texas. The choice was to look for another job in a bad economy in Chicago, which given my age was not a great prospect, or move to Texas. Simple decision, especially as the company where my husband was working went out of business the very same month. We moved, lock, stock & barrel... and haven't regretted the decision for a moment...

    March 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  59. Fellow Auto Worker

    Scott, you hit the nail on the head, this recession/depression is tearing families apart and to have our Soldiers be deployed 3 and 4 times is beyond the pale. I had to leave my home in Alabama and move 3K miles away to California. If not for my fellow "refugees" it would have been even harder.
    Sherry, for you to be so cold-hearted about what is happening to families tells me you either don't have one or don't care about them. That or you are just plain cold-hearted. Thank God that's your problem.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  60. RJTN

    Are any of the incured expenses for this extreem commuting tax-deductible? Mileage, meals, room and board?

    March 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  61. G. Clare

    I think the 'hardship' angle was the direction the CNN reporter was going - not the family themselves. They seemed to be accepting of it – just saying it was hard. This just seems to underscore to me that perhaps reporters are out of touch with on the ground realities (like Washington DC politicians at times). I've not had a full time job in 1+ year but have been doing freelancing and consulting whereever it takes me. I'm not complaining as I realize I'm lucky to be working and lucky to still live where I live.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  62. Ed

    I am also in a commuter marriage thanks to the economy. I was laid off IBM in 2006. I could not find a similar job in IT in the NY/NJ area. I had to work up to 3 jobs to support the family. I finally found an IT job in Baltimore, and commute 200 miles each week from northern NJ to Baltimore, going home on weekends. We are hoping the economy improves so that I can find an IT job in NJ or NYC. This is truly hard on families.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  63. Jon

    This is an unfortunate situation based on the economic situation today. Here is another situation, being employed by the federal government and doing an overseas tour for two years I requested to return to the office that I had left from at the conclusion of my tour. Instead of sending me back to that office, where there were vacancies, my agency sent me to another office. I cant sell my home in the city where my original office was because of the sharp decline in real estate, my wife cant leave her job and it costs me about $600 to "work" (living expenses etc) in this other office. The government could have save itself relocation expenses for me and had a more productive worker but as evidenced they don't care.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  64. PK California

    There are many people doing this in order to find work. My son travels once a week from Georgia to Michigan after losing 2 auto-related jobs and his house in Michigan! My husband did this for years a long time ago. You go where the work is! You camp out, rent a room, buddy up with co workers, whatever it takes. Wives and kids wing it, but understand. It's a learning experience for kids. They have to do with less. When there are two people working their butts off, not looking for hand outs, the hardest thing for me was to hear my kids refer to themselves as being poor.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  65. Matt

    The Census this year will have a difficult time accurately recording data with families getting displaced because of this terrible economy.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  66. Crusader

    I don't have that problem as a single man, so I can not say I understand what you are going through, but all of your stories are inspiring and heart warming. I pray for all of you, for your safety and for your families to stay together because situations like this can be hard on husbands and wives, and divorce can be a result. Whatever you guys do please remember that God will provide and He will not put you in any situation that He cannot get you out of. He will not put anything on you that you can not bear. Whether you are traveling 1,000 miles or 5 miles to work, be encourage and understand you are blessed, because there are thousands who don't have jobs, and thousands who don't have the option to see their families at all.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  67. Mary

    This is not new news for probably hundreds of thousands. Nearly everyone I knew in the aviation industry had to do whatever it took to support their families in that upheavel. Many men and women have had to commute to other states for work. Most when hit with this cannot afford to just "relocate" their homes and families (selling homes and affording relocation expenses on their own dimes) Most middle class workers don't get compensated by companies. We even got audited by the IRS for the enormous expenses we had to deduct.
    My hat is off to everyone who has the resourcefulness and fortitude to do what it takes to takes. Right on, hang in there and god bless.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  68. Chris

    Rockford, IL (where I could afford a house) to Chicago, IL (where there's a job), 200 mile round trip, 4-5 days a week, since 2004. Can't decide what hurts most - my right leg and having no insurance to get pain pills that really work, or the credit card debt I still have from when gas prices were insane.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  69. didthesame

    Our Government does nothing to stop corporations from moving jobs away from workers. New business formula for maximiziong CEO pay includes closing plants ahead of majority of workers are close to retirenment, – great strategy for democracy based society. This guy may ask GM to give him the same jet-liner service as CEO has.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:58 am |

    ...and I'm the mother. Hubby stays home with our child. It will be worth the sacrifice.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  71. Verona

    At least he and the others have a permanent job with the same employer. I lost my banking job in 2008. In the spring of 2009, I took a temporary contracting job half way across the country and flew home every 3 weeks for 3 months. There aren't any jobs where I'm from and I can't sell the house to move.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  72. Bull

    This is nothing new.In the 80's ,people from Ohio drove to the Linden
    NJ GM plant to work.They went home once a week. No big deal.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  73. Matt

    I am in the same boat, layed off from Wall Street for over one year and live in PA, was commutting from PA to NY, now considering going to Arizona for the jobs in demand, and family staying in PA, while I work in Arizona in order to get benefits for my family. Families are all getting displaced because of this terrible economy!

    March 9, 2010 at 11:56 am |

    This may sound rare and extreme to those who get to kiss their families goodbye in the morning and have dinner with them every night, but for many more of us, living out of a suitcase away from our families has become the norm.

    It is temporary for us, but the financial rewards are well worth it, and we have a good "exit strategy" to get out of this way of life. We are hunkering down, paying off ALL debt (including the mortgage), setting aside 4 years of college tuition for our 9-year-old, and socking away a nice chunk.

    We are all willing to put up with the 1,200 mile commute (one-way) for 2 more years to accomplish this. You do what you have to do, right?

    March 9, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  75. Mark

    God give strength to all those families broken by hard times. My heart goes out to them.

    We need to bring the jobs back to America, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and secure our borders, regardless of policitcal party or preference. Let's taake care of ourselves!

    March 9, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  76. Punkin

    So why is the news making a story about this. Do you know how many people are in the same situation? Media is trying to sell us something today. Wonder what? Health Care??? You bet

    March 9, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  77. mintosh

    "bunk with two other GM workers in a three-bedroom apartment"

    For chrissakes. I sympathize with the poor guy enough already, without the author exagerating his living arrangements. He has his own bedroom – you don't need to make it seem like he is squeezed in to a tin can.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  78. Travis

    I know moving the family can be tough, but I'm a stronger person for having been moved around a lot when my folks looked for work. My folks declared bankruptcy twice. I have moved 27 times and attended 13 different schools (no my family is not in the military). My father would sit my sister and I down and ask if we wanted to move, he would listen to our concerns, and then say tough...I may have always been the new kid but at least I had family to fall back on. My suggestion...take your family with you (they may be mad at first but they'll get over it).

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  79. karma1

    My husband commutes over 2000 miles from Georgia to California since June of 2009. With two young children, it has been very stressful for our family as well. We are all coping the best way we can.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  80. Tamara

    This is not at all unusual for those who work in the oil sands near Fort McMurray, Alberta. Housing in Fort McMurray is very expensive (nearly the highest in the country) so many people leave their families behind and fly home on their days off or visit home only every few months.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  81. Wayne

    I travel 900 miles per week, 3 hours a day, 15 hours a week driving, for almost 5 years now. I hate every mile, but the company I work for has been very good to me. That's why i stay around. If not, McDonals cook looks pretty good.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  82. J.Harvey

    I lost my first job out of college in the middle of winter – it took me until December of 2009 to get a temp to hire job with wages to maintain the little I mangaged to keep, I kept afloat with serving and seasonal summer work.

    I am greatful for work – opportunity I was given to be with friends and family while unemployed, but could not imagine having to make the decision of being 1,000 miles away from the life I know.

    My new job is very stable and I assist with the mortgage crisis giving guidance and resolutions to people in my exact spot a year ago.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  83. Johnny Y

    I know how they feel. My wife lives and works in Santa Fe NM And I am working in Palo Alto CA. It is very hard. Sometimes I just want to give up. But that is not the American way right. There is no doubt that we will get through this. But it is very hard on the family.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  84. Mommyintx

    Thats not much of a commute. We live in the DFW area and my husband works in southern CA. We bought a home here as the market was crashing and faced not being able to send our kids to college or pay medical expenses. The housing market here is a little better, but someone should tell that family not to buy in Arlington or they'll end up in a worse mess. This is year five for us and we have adapted to it, we homeschool our younger children so when Daddy is here they can spend every minute with him possible. That also allows us to go back to CA with him for long visits with our family there. There are so many Californians doing this, we are nicknamed Imports by the local realestate industry.

    This isnt the first time my husband has worked in another state, once we lived in the Chicago burbs and he worked out of southern Wisconsin. That was a pile of kids and 16 yrs ago. Choosing to take care of your family is not a tough choice, love is a decision. The fact that some seem him as sacrificing his relationship with his kids is sad. IME he has a stronger one because of their lifestyle.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  85. Samantha

    I don't think that this story was to point out the uniqueness of this family's situation, I think that it was hilighting a trend that many Americans have come to face. It was a story meant to relate to many Americans who travel extreme lengths to provide for themselves and their families(even while missing the quality time with them). My heart goes out to any and all who face this situation, including members of the Military. Thank you to everyone who has tightened their belts and bootstraps , lowered their heads and are plowing through tough times.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  86. Tim

    He's lucky to have a good-paying job. It's a small sacrifice, really. Plus, this is happening all over the country. Some people are doing it for a contract job!

    March 9, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  87. DM

    He looks pretty young to retire in 8 years. Maybe its because he doesn't live with his wife and teenagers?

    March 9, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  88. Derek W

    Texas was founded on the Indominable Spirit. I live right outside of Arlington,Texas and we will welcome them with open arms. People with grit, courage, integrity, a sense of family, and a humble pride are exactly the type of people that fit in here best. Welcome Home, Friends!

    March 9, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  89. Jacob

    I did just that. I moved back in July about 400 miles away from home back in Georgia, away from everything and EVERYONE I knew to take a DoD job in Florida. What's great about it is the location and the fact that I have a stable, trusted income. I have a bachelor's degree, but I didn't get hired for that reason, or paid the salary I need 😡 I'm single with no kids, so that was something that I didn't have to worry about, but my family, friends, a girlfriend, and now all on my very own, it can be difficult. I can't say I've been so far away from home, and now REALLY wonder if I can ever come back home. Georgia was built on the real estate market, so it took a BRUTAL hit. Unemployment is around 10.4% indicated, with about 16 or 17% actual, and only rising. I may never get a chance to come back home again. CURSE the 2nd Great Depression and every individual who caused it, because I sure didn't!

    March 9, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  90. Chris

    I commuted 2000 miles for about 18 months. It was what I had to do to find work. Situations like that are hard on the entire family and it's a financial strain to maintain two households. I will change careers before doing that again.

    Since graduating from college, I have lived in 5 states spread out over half the US. It is very hard to keep pulling up roots to follow work, especially with kids. There is a lot of value in staying in one place long term.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  91. E. Hillmann

    Complaints, complaints. My husband used to be in the merchant marine for 17 years and was gone for weeks and months at a time. And that was before there were cell phones and the internet.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  92. Lynn in Georgia

    when i read this. I had to comment. My fiance' and I have had to put off getting married several times due to the recession and the fallout it brings with it. Right now he is 3 states helping with older parents and trying to find anything employable. It is hard. Misery does not love company in our case but i feel a little bit better knowing someone understands this situation. Washington, ARE YOU LISTENING??


    March 9, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  93. Andy

    the global economic slump has has had an effect on every one, I have moved from South Africa to the UAE and then 9 months later to Bahrain. The bottom line is I have to go where the work is in order to keep my family housed & fed. Good on you and thank God we still have jobs...

    March 9, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  94. Sharon

    When I got married my husband was working in a brand new field of work – nuclear power. We had 2 nuc plants shut down while he was working and had to move across country for new jobs. I would have loved to have stayed in California to be near our parents and siblings but such was not the case. It tough moving but we always think of it as a new adventure. These days we are thankful we are employed.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  95. David McMahon

    I have been working and living away from my family for 2 years. I now work in Dallas, TX, but my home is in Atlanta, GA. My family, including 5 kids live there. It is hard , but can be done. I rather be away working, being able to care for my family, then at home arguing with wife and family due to no money at all.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  96. Peter

    that's nothing! I used to commute 60 miles a day "ONE WAY"

    March 9, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  97. ashish

    I am travelling 65 miles each way in LA becuase my job and my wife's job are far, we cannot change the jobs in this situtation.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  98. Cindi

    Nicholas – I am sorry that you feel that shutting down immigration is a useful tactic. It reveals that you are not understanding that the US economy DEPENDS on legal foreign immigration to stimulate population growth, which has always been an essential part of economy growth. Sadly, now more than ever the US economy needs the added population to consume our ever-increasingly service based industries. We don't MAKE anything anymore, and so we need immigrants to be here, consuming where the services are provided. I know it feels sometimes like an immigrant is just taking taking taking, but the fact is, immigrants spend almost all of their income here in the US. They buy goods and services here in our economy, they pay taxes in the forms of sales tax and oftentimes in social security (using fake or stolen numbers, which means they pay in and never take out!) and contribute enormously to our economic structure. Be careful what you ask for, the truth is that if we all of the sudden just lost the immigrants, a full 10% of the social security money paid in to the system would disappear, and since not one of those dollars is paid out – every dollar would be pure loss.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  99. ramesh

    Give me a break, i work for a big counsulting company and 75% of people in our company does this every week. like me, my client is 800 miles away form my home. so i go to work on every monday and come back on friday..i am doing this for 5 years now, and there are thousands of people in my company who do this every week. people are reluctant to move out of their comfort zone. there is a lot of jobs outside if people are willing to be flexible. why do immigrants like me survive in this country, because we are flexible and adapt change easily.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:44 am |
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