On Monday night Four Corners hears from America’s shrinking middle class who are fast joining the swelling ranks of the working poor.
‘The Price of the American Dream’ comes from French film-maker Hélène Eckmann.
“I never figured I’d be in this kind of situation, for my kids to be in this kind of situation…I’m dumbfounded.”
“Make America Great Again!” was the catchcry that propelled President Donald Trump all the way to The White House. He tapped into the deep sense of unease felt by many Americans, that despite the nation’s economic recovery after the global financial crisis, they have been left behind.
“It’s a struggle every day. How am I gonna make it today? How am I gonna make money to buy food, how am I gonna make money to cook my kids dinner at night?”
On Monday night Four Corners brings you the story of those Americans desperately hoping for change – America’s shrinking middle class who are fast joining the swelling ranks of the working poor.
“Two jobs right now is nothing, like I could probably do 3 jobs if I wanted to, but then I would definitely get no sleep.”
Germania works 18 hours a day at two minimum wage jobs, but no matter how hard she works, it’s not enough. Most of her salary goes on the small motel room she shares with her children and mother-in-law. Her dreams of being a paediatrician have faded.
“You know what, I’ll do the overnight if I’m gonna get paid nine dollars and five cents…just suck it up. It’s like fifty cents more.”
Others chase work across the country. Joe, Chelsie and their three daughters arrived in Seattle hoping to find jobs in the city’s building boom. Instead, they find themselves living in a tent city set up in a church carpark.
“This is my momma’s tent. This is my family and we sleep right there and I sleep on the really bottom.”
They’re joined by others who never believed they could fall so far down the country’s economic ladder.
“To be somebody (who was) in…a top position before here, it can make you realise, did I look down on that person?”
And as companies try to cut costs and move jobs to cheaper areas, many workers are facing an uncertain future for the first time in their working lives.
“It’s not just about wages, it’s not just about benefits. It’s about treating you like you’re a human being. This isn’t a third world country that we live in, this is the United States.”
Monday 13th March at 8.30pm on ABC.