Victor and Eloise represent the new face of debt in America. Together, they've worked in a series of low-wage jobs that include stints at fast-food restaurants, small factories, and hotels. Technically, they are not poor according to the government's official definition of "poverty," but the economic vulnerability of the working poor and the near-poor are increasingly similar. The couple, whom I interviewed for my recent book, live in Montgomery, Alabama, with their two children, aged 4 and 14. They own their own home, which they bought in 2000 after their second child was born.
Generation X has grown up. Its members and their personalities consumed our nation's attention in the 1980s, when it seemed this generation would go down in history as a group of spoiled slackers. Then in the late 1990s, the generation written off as a bunch of yahoos became the generation behind Yahoo. Now age 26 to 40, the generation that once was the subject of so much self-righteous finger-wagging is the core of America's young families.