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The first domino has fallen.

Now that the mayor of Los Angeles has signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year (which starts on July 1st of every year and runs through to the end of June of the following year), the long-rumored layoffs and mandatory unpaid furlough days for Los Angeles City employees pass from possibility to likelihood. If there is no opposition to the acceptance of this budget (none is expected), the first round of layoffs will commence, starting with 1,200 City employees. Additionally, all City employees will be required to take twenty six furlough days throughout the fiscal year.

Though initially only 1,200 people are going to lose their jobs imminently, City Hall has clearly indicated that this is a "work in progress." Such is the scope of the City's financial troubles that City leaders are forced to try to hit a moving target. More layoffs are possible, and the number of mandatory furlough days (which ultimately mean that there is less income for each individual City employee who keeps his/her job) is likely to increase as well.

If the current economic climate persists, and especially if it worsens, more of these ominous dominos are sure to fall. Moreover, if and when things get bad, the rank and file amongst the City's workforce, ordinary people who depend on their salaries and income to live, eat, and pay for the essentials of living, will be the ones who get crushed by these toppling dominos. (I personally have not seen any evidence of the City's bigwigs voluntarily taking cuts in their pay, or taking mandatory unpaid furlough days themselves.)

I am likely to be one of those who may eventually find himself under one of these dominos.

Seniority is one of those factors which will determine who gets laid off. I've been a City employee for three years and five months. This is not a long time, for sure. But I am fairly confident (not to mention very hopeful) that I will not be amongst the first 1,200 cuts.

I've been on the lookout for a new job for the last two months, just in case the worst happens. The problem with this part of the strategy, though, is that the job market is presently quite dry. There is a real shortage of opportunities at the moment, at least here in Southern California. My personal reality is that I require a certain minimum in income, as I literally depend on my paycheck to live.

I have no real luxuries at this point in my life.

As I look at life, at this array of dominos arranged to fall in sequence, I can only hope that the one that has my name on it isn't slated to crush me at any time soon. It's hard to not be pessimistic during these times, but I do get a crumb of comfort knowing that, despite everything that might happen, the future is not set in stone.

I'm still here, and I can still change and affect things for the better.


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