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Percy and Beverly Evans are one strike away from foreclosure on the home they purchased 13 years ago
Some 68 million American households struggle to access checking accounts and reliable financial services
Low-income families struggle to pay off steep health care costs, even with insurance plans
With student debt at an all-time high, only a minority of graduates are succeeding in paying down their balance
Despite data showing a 7-year low in unemployment, wages remain at a standstill for middle- and low-income workers
Discouraged workers, stagnant wages and underemployment mean labor force has less participation than formally indicated
Hard Earned follows five families around the country to find out what it takes to get by on 8, 10, or even 17 dollars an hour. The series turns an intimate lens on a group of 21st century American dreamers. They fight against all odds to thrive, when it takes everything they have to simply survive.
Episode 1 – Premieres Sunday, May 3
As Emilia celebrates her 50th birthday, she takes stock of her career as a waitress and struggles to hold onto her house. DJ gets frustrated with working conditions at Walgreens and starts talking to his co-workers about how to make a change. Clerical worker Jose and his girlfriend Elizabeth look for a way to move out of their parents’ basements and give their son his own bedroom.
Episode 2 – Premieres Sunday, May 10
Hilton juggles two full-time jobs, and returns home at night to the one-car garage he calls home in the heart of Silicon Valley. Jose and Elizabeth try to qualify for a mortgage, Emilia reveals a troubling part of her past, and DJ and Takita try to start over in a new neighborhood.
Episode 3 – Premieres Sunday, May 17
A surprise on the housing front leads Jose to think about his future with Elizabeth in a new light. Hilton and Diana prepare for the birth of twins, while Hilton works hard for a promotion at work. Emilia pounds the pavement for a better-paying job. DJ fears recrimination at work for his union activity.
Episode 4 – Premieres Sunday, May 24
Percy and Beverly face their fading dreams of retirement before gathering their family together for a holiday meal. Emilia tries to keep up Christmas traditions in the midst of her deepening financial crisis. Hilton takes unpaid time off from his cafeteria job at Google to accompany Diana to doctors’ appointments for complications in her pregnancy.
Episode 5 – Premieres Sunday, May 31
DJ steps up his union activity, Jose and Elizabeth put everything on the line to improve their living situation and Emilia gets an unexpected call about a job opportunity. Percy gets a $1.50/hour raise at a new custodial position and Takita prepares for a celebration at church.
Episode 6 – Premieres Sunday, June 7
Diana overcomes her fears to forge a new path in the U.S. Percy worries about Beverly’s declining health. Takita struggles with abdominal pain and DJ attempts to reconcile with his father. Emilia gets ready to tell her story in front of a group of high school kids.
Follow Al Jazeera's extensive coverage of the issues from the field
How families above the poverty line but not quite middle class are trying to make it
In a sputtering economy, debt collectors are working harder than ever to force payment, sometimes even breaking the law
In State of the Union address, president vows to end tax loopholes seized upon by corporations and the superrich
Getting poor Americans to wed won't reverse growing inequality in the US
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A review of the latest numbers behind the student debt situation in the United States
It's been 50 years since America declared a War on Poverty. How would you survive at the federal poverty level?
More than 25 percent of Americans lived in a poverty area in 2012, an increase from 18 percent a decade earlier
For the first time since 1992, US income and poverty rates didn't change, but fewer young people lack health insurance