— Brett Fowkes invested in the American dream.
For 28 years, the Las Vegas architect worked hard, and worked even harder to save money. When he parted with his cash, he bought U.S. products, he said. Through the years, Fowkes stayed out of debt and even paid extra on his mortgage.
"Now, I'm out of work," said Fowkes, 47. "There are no jobs that pay any more than the unemployment check. My 401(k) will disappear in a year. ... I didn't cause this mess, yet we will pay for it for years. When will the managers of this country step up and face the problem head on?"
Hundreds of readers like Fowkes responded swiftly to a question posed by msnbc.com: Given the reeling economy, would workers take a 5 percent cut in pay to save jobs at their company? In contrast to a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll that found that two-thirds of those polled would take the cut, those who responded to msnbc.com were split.
Half who wrote in said pay cuts were necessary in a climate of profound financial uncertainty, but others shared Fowkes' sentiment: "What I can't understand is: Why do I have to pay for doing everything right?"
No, Fowkes will not take a pay cut, he said. He wants to work. Period.
"I have a family to support," he said "Now, I'm having to collect unemployment for the first time in my life and there's a long line behind me."
Todd Lowe of Lily, Ky., still has a job as an automotive engineer and doesn't want to lose it.
"Would I be willing to take a 5 percent pay cut to keep my job? You better believe it," Lowe wrote in. "Even a 25 percent cut in pay is better than being out of work. At least I would be able to pay my bills without relying on unemployment.
"The production schedules, in the manufacturing facility in which I am employed, have been reduced by more than 60 percent. I am proud to say our leadership saw it coming and made adjustment to avoid layoffs."
When asked about the mood in their workplaces, readers expressed relief at escaping layoffs, anxiety about what's to come, and downright bitterness and anger over the nation's economic turmoil.
"The mood here today is fear," said Rosemary Cheslock of Grand Rapids, Mich. "Many of our employees have spouses who work at the Big Three or a supplier. They are terrified of what could happen."
More reader responses to a possible pay cut: