How One Job Loss Cascades Through the Economy

I love this story in the Journal’s Currents section today.

My former colleague Ben Casselman traces the economic impact of one Dallas family suffering through a job loss. This is just really well-done writing and reporting on the economy here (while I’m at it, props to the Journal art department, which has really gotten better lately. The graphic here is great).

The collapse of housing snared Chuck Smith in May, when he lost his housing-consulting job. The Smith family sharply curtails its spending and the WSJ follows the impact as it branches out into the economy:

Mrs. Smith stopped shopping at Harold’s, the upscale clothier that had been a favorite since her days at the University of Oklahoma.

Thousands of other shoppers were making similar decisions to cut back, and the drop in sales sent Harold’s, already struggling to compete with larger rivals, underwater. The 60-year-old chain filed for bankruptcy in November, and this month closed all 43 of its stores in 19 states.

Among the 50-plus employees listening to the grim announcement at Harold’s Dallas headquarters on Nov. 7 was Amanda Martin, a 27-year-old newlywed who had worked for nearly five years as a merchandise planner.

Ms. Martin knew Harold’s had been struggling, but the news still came as a shock. Her husband, Kyle, worked for Belo Corp., the local television giant that has faced its own recent financial challenges, and was pursuing an M.B.A. — a long-term investment they suddenly weren’t sure they could afford. So the Martins, like the Smiths, sat down to figure out how to slow their spending.

Ms. Martin stops going out to a local restaurant, whose owner Casselman talks to about how he’s had to cut back his orders of liquor and food, which have in turn, presumably, hurt his suppliers.

I’d quote the whole story if I could. Just go read it.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.