While a recession was being discussed all those months ago, it hadn't quite eaten into the upper tier. People saw having help as an investment, a way to maximize their own time available for recreation, family time and work. As their own income and wealth has started to fall the time equal money equation has tipped in favor of money. Nannies and domestic help are finding their salaries cut or are being let go. Nanny sharing is on the rise as people find ways to get by with less help but not lose a person who in many cases is practically a member of the family. Some people have decided to gradually cut back in an effort to mitigate the damage to the housekeeper or nanny's income. People are doing their own housework and even outdoor chores, dispensing in some cases with the lawn service companies which are so ubiquitous in California. Even dog walkers are finding it harder to make a living. And those butlers, whose jobs were more administrative than hands-on may find themselves running the same large households with less and less staff.
In some cases it becomes a question of what people are interested in giving up, the help or other creature comforts. The WSJ article quotes a woman who decided to lay off the nanny rather than give up her Botox treatments. Whereas in the NYT article a woman cut back on her gym membership and lunches out before she decided to make the decision of giving up her housekeeper.