Day laborer Yohanni Castillo from Honduras waits for work outside a Lowes home improvement store in New Orleans. Jobs are drying up, he says, and he hasn't worked in four days. Even when work does comes along, he says, he doesn't always get paid. Richard Gonzales/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Gonzales/NPR

High school senior Jared Lyons (center), shown here with his parents, Kim and Bob, worries how he'll afford to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor. The economy, he says, "can't get any worse than it is now." Courtesy of Kim Lyons hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Kim Lyons

In and near its downtown, there are more boarded-up and empty storefronts and vacant lots in Granite City, Ill., than there are businesses. David Schaper /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Schaper /NPR

Sophomore Emily Nugent is among Berea College's 1,600 students who receive free tuition. On average, Berea's students come from families with household incomes of about $25,000. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Noah Adams/NPR

Timmons browses the racks of his now-closed business. The record store will have a final clearance sale on Nov. 29. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Billings, Mont., has a diverse economic base, as evidenced by the confluence of stockyards, oil refineries and natural beauty. The unemployment rate for Billings' Yellowstone County was 5.3 percent in September, far lower than the national average. Richard Gonzales/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Gonzales/NPR

In 1962, President John Kennedy (center) and Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited Dr. Wernher von Braun (left), who designed the Saturn rocket in Huntsville, Ala. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

Norris and Janis Galatas at their home in Collinsville, Miss., with their horse, Cinnamon. The couple is struggling to make their mortgage payments.

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itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR