Profiles in unemployment: The auto worker

As part of a Reuters series on long-term unemployment, reporters spoke with those who are struggling to find work. For other profiles click here and here.

ALVIN GAINS, 56, former Chrysler worker

For the second time in 30 years, Alvin Gains is leaving his home state of Michigan and moving to Texas to find work.

“There are college kids who can’t find a job, so there’s no chance for someone my age,” said Gains, 56. “But people are hiring in Houston, so it’s time to go.”

Gains has moved to the Houston area once before. He joined thousands of Michiganders drawn to jobs in a Texan oil boom in 1979, after he was laid off by Chrysler. He returned to Michigan in 1984, when Chrysler was hiring again.

He has been retired since the end of 2007 from a job as an inspector at a Chrysler plant in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights. “This time I knew what signs to look for and I could see what was coming, so I knew it was time to get out,” he said.

U.S. state budgets battered by recession

Eighteen months into the worst recession in decades, and the pain of the downturn is reaching into nearly every U.S. state, city and municipality.

With ever more people out of work, consumer spending has dried up, depriving local government of sales tax revenue. The continued housing slump has wiped out real estate transfer taxes, while declining corporate profits have eroded business tax revenue.

From Maine to California, the slump has drained coffers at the very time that the cost of providing jobless benefits and healthcare has risen, straining public finances.