Retrenching After Earnings Decline With help From Portage Lakes Career Center, a technical school in Uniontown

By CLARE ANSBERRY

Retrenching After Earnings DeclineGroundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2010, isn’t a day that Tanya Ross-Lane of Akron, Ohio, wants to relive.

After 13 years helping workers at Diebold Inc., a maker of ATMs and security systems, update their job skills through training programs, she was laid off from her job, which paid $55,000 a year.

At the time, her husband, Michael Lane, also was unemployed, having lost his job with a home contractor, where he was earning $15 to $20 an hour pouring concrete and installing cabinets and floors. The couple sold her 10-year-old Saab, kept their 2003 Jeep, and worked out a lower interest rate on their mortgage. “We keep things modest. We don’t go out much. We cut off the lights and don’t buy steak,” Mr. Lane said.

Ms. Ross-Lane, 54 years old, took a six-week job with the Census Bureau. She also joined a local church’s Community Job Club to keep her spirits up and network. Through Diebold connections, she learned of an opening: the Portage Lakes Career Center, a technical school in Uniontown, Ohio, needed a Human Resource Development Coordinator to design classes to help workers update skills. Ms. Ross-Lane started Nov. 1, 2010, earning $40,000 a year.

But she still goes to Job Club meetings. “So many people who lost jobs have an identity crisis. They don’t know what to do,” she said. “I want to give back and help other people improve their interview skills, coach them on careers and offer encouragement.”

In May 2010, Mr. Lane, 58, landed work through a temporary agency, earning $9.50 an hour with a window-installation company. At first, business was good. Last year, when homeowners were receiving tax credits for new energy-efficient windows, he was working 70 hours a week. The company promised full-time employment after 120 days, but 16 months in, Mr. Lane is still a temp—now working 40 hours a week.

Prospects aren’t great: The company has a hiring freeze. One coworker with a 22-year tenure is making $12 an hour. Still, Mr. Lane would like the security and benefits of being a company employee. “It’s clean and the work is not extremely hard,” he said. “I could be working at a lot worse places.”