When Dave Schumacher, 51 years old, lost his job in 2009 in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., he wasn’t alone. Schumacher drove trucks for a supplier company that served the General Motors (GM) SUV plant, the economic heartbeat of this blue-collar town. GM consolidated production in Texas and Mexico.
When the four-million-square-foot GM plant in the southern part of town closed in 2009 after a series of layoffs, it took with it the jobs of some 2,800 employees, the single most significant economic blow inflicted upon any Wisconsin community since the economic collapse of 2008. But it wasn’t just GM workers who lost their jobs, the closure caused a ripple effect of business closings and layoffs in the area, leaving an ill-equipped safety net supporting the workers who remained in the community.