'Recession widows' are latest product of rough economy

With their local opportunities exhausted, some job seekers are finding work far from home — so far away, in fact, that they can return to their families only on weekends.

Come Sunday night, they hit the road or head to the airport and start all over again. It is a grind that many area families are enduring week after week, month after month, all the more difficult during the holiday season.

The result is a little discussed fallout of the recession, of the housing crash, of this long and enduring stretch of high unemployment: separated families.

The spouses at home, often the women, have been referred to as "recession widows."

Janet Greene of Overland Park certainly has that single-parent feeling from time to time. Her husband, Ken, took a job in Chicago after a consolidation at Verizon Business cost him his position as a vice president for sales engineering.

"I try to get everything done I possibly can do during the week so we can have the weekends together," Janet said. "He gets home late Friday and leaves about 5 on Sunday, so that's not a whole lot of time."

The Greenes, with two daughters in high school, have been making this arrangement work since April. They are thankful for Ken's job and for the income, but the long-term separation is a hardship they never expected.

"It's the being-away time," Ken said. "It's the fact that I'm essentially living out of a suitcase."

One alternative, of course, would be to pull up stakes, a choice that families fear might end up badly.

"Do I move my family in a volatile economy?" Ken said.

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