On the Edge: New Yorkers Struggle to Make Ends Meet

by the NY City Lens staff

Rising economic inequality is in the air. People from all walks of life are losing their grip on the American middle class life. They're on the edge. (NY City Lens Staff)

Rising economic inequality is in the air. People from all walks of life are losing their grip on the American middle class life. They’re on the edge. (NY City Lens Staff)

Abdoul Guiro is an African immigrant working two jobs to support himself, his ailing parents, and sometimes to help impoverished relatives back in Burkina Faso.

Joyce Fish, who once commanded a six-figure salary in the fashion world, finds herself in an unfamiliar place at 58: desperately looking for work.

June Brooker thought she might be taking it easy at 65. Instead, she is raising three grandchildren, watching her 401K shrink.

What these disparate people have in common is that their grip on the American middle class life is threatened. They are On the Edge. And they are far from alone. As The New York Times reported last month, 46 percent of New Yorkers make less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold, meaning they are struggling. That’s nearly half of us in this city, and some can be found in surprising places—from seemingly comfortable retirement homes to the classrooms of top universities to the cockpit of some airplanes.

Rising economic inequality is in the air; politicians are grappling with the issue, including our president, Barack Obama, who is pushing for a higher minimum wage, among other things, and our mayor, Bill de Blasio, who rode to office pledging to try to help. In this special report, NY City Lens takes a look some of the data around this problem, explores some of the issue and solutions, and gives some of the many people who are struggling a chance to tell their stories.

Profiles: A Chance to Tell Their Stories

People who are living on the edge tell how they got there and what it feels like. More»

Issues & Solutions: Is There a Fix?

What are some of the issues people losing their grip on the middle class face? And are there any solutions? More»

Data: A Quantitative Look

Explore rising economic inequality across the city by the numbers More»

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