The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor In America

Katherine S. Newman and Victor Tan Chen

This report on the results of a seven-year study of the working poor combines facts and figures with narratives of struggle, success and defeat. Newman and Chen’s subjects have jobs, aspirations and energy—a good thing, since they’re often working two jobs just to stay in place. These are the folks most ignored by policy makers and pundits alike: the holders of multiple jobs, the families who are one paycheck away from disaster and the retired folks who watch their neighborhoods gentrified by people with real money. Public policy is always aimed at the haves and the have-nots; what about the have-littles? While presidential candidate John Edwards’ forward seems a bit like a stump speech, this book reveals that we only have “two Americas” in the point-counterpoint talk-show world. We’ve really got four or five Americas, and most of them are working really, really hard to make ends meet.