Has your boss cut your pay? Taken away overtime? Reduced your workweek? Eliminated raises? Chopped your benefits? Put you on an unpaid furlough?
Join the millions who have seen their take-home pay flattened by the double whammy of recession and its nationwide 10.2 percent-and-still-rising unemployment rate.
Compensation in 2009 has been cut by the largest amount in nearly two decades, with a government index of real average weekly earnings down 1.9 percent since its high point in December.
And the average workweek — now down to 33 hours — is the shortest on modern record.
In the Northern San Joaquin Valley, where the unemployment rate was more than 15 percent in September and is expected to rise through the winter months, wage stagnation is another blow to an already troubled economy.
Workers in the public and private sectors have seen their wages frozen and workweeks cut in an attempt to slash costs and avert larger layoffs.
In August, all of the more than 350 nonacademic staff at California Stanislaus University, Stanislaus, started taking two furlough days a month, the equivalent of about a 10 percent pay cut.
"People are hurting really bad, they are scared," said Frank Borrelli, president of the local chapter of the California State University Employees Union. "They are scared to spend money, not just on frivolous things but the basic necessities. One worker told me yesterday he was applying for food stamps. I can tell you, it's crazy."
This summer the nearly 400-employees covered by the Modesto City Employees Association and Modesto Confidential and Management Association agreed to one furlough day a month as well as no cost-of-living raises for its members.
Also over the summer, Gov. Schwarzenegger expanded the state's furlough program so that all 215,000 employees must take three unpaid days a month.
"This is a relatively poor area to start with, but because the economy took such a sharp turn here it will take that much longer to come out of the recession," said Shawn Kantor, professor of economics at the University of California at Merced. "When you compare median incomes for metro areas, Central Valley communities just don't do very well."
In California, a survey released by Grant Thornton LLP showed that 47 percent of chief financial officers in the state expected to reduce salaries in the the next six months, compared with 9 percent who planned to increase them.
Kantor said wages will be one of the last things to recover in the valley, as employers instead will increase hours and then possibly hire more workers before raising people's base salaries across the board.
"We're getting a perfect storm in the decreased demand for workers and increase in workers who want to work," he said. "We're getting both of those forces working together, probably more strongly here than anywhere in the country. So until we reach a situation where employers employ more people, we'll probably see wages stay pretty stable."
Compensation cuts have sliced across the board. But most workers who've been nipped and tucked are clear on one point: They're still in better shape than the more than 7 million U.S. workers who have lost their jobs in this recession.
The unemployed have suffered the biggest pay cuts of all.
"The ones who have jobs are willing to give up a lot to keep them. They've seen the alternative," said Tom McCoy, a compensation consultant at Intellithink.
Modesto City Employees Association president Tom McCarthy said he has received largely positive comments about the furloughs from the some 375 workers his union represents. The cuts have been spread out over paychecks, making them easier for some families to absorb.
"From a union standpoint, we're still negotiating from the same baseline pay," McCarthy said. "The furloughs are the nice exception to the rule as opposed to losing ground. We are all working in this together."
Paycheck chiseling has been muted by recent deflation in core consumer prices, giving the sense that most workers are running in place financially.
Still, the cuts make workers cautious and reluctant to spend. That common reaction to paycheck slicing has put the fear of a lousy holiday shopping season into retailers. Chapped by layoffs and pay cuts, consumer spending has dwindled.
Borrelli, who works as the property services manager at Cal State Stanislaus, said he expects to spend the same, if not less, on Christmas this year than last. He also said he and his wife, who also works full time, worry whether they'll be able to afford to send their 16-year-old son to the uni- versity where Borrelli has worked for more than two decades.
"Twenty-three years ago when I got this job, these jobs were one of the best in Turlock," Borrelli said. "And now what blows my mind is that there are full-time people working here now who qualify for WIC."
Long, steady decline
Since the recession began in December 2007, total weekly pay for private production and nonsupervisory workers — which accounts for about eight in 10 members of the work force — has declined on a month-to-month basis for 16 out of 21 months.
Unfortunately, the BNA Wage Trend Indicator, an index that predicts wage growth for private-sector workers, calls for further weakening. BNA economist Kathryn Kobe forecasts year-over-year wage growth to fall to 1 percent or less, well below the record low of 1.6 percent recorded in the first half of the year.
Borrelli said while the furloughs have been hard on CSUS employees, many feel grateful to still work on the campus at all.
"I love the job I do, I am very lucky," he said. "We're just praying to God that we can keep working. We're in this vicious cycle right now."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2284.