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How the Recession Plays Out in Reading, Pa.

New York Times profiles Reading, a small city with the nation's highest poverty rate. Sad story, but it is instructive to see how the male/breadwinner, education gap and marriageable mate issues play out in a place like Reading:

Young men have been particularly hard hit. Because they are having trouble competing for jobs, they are dropping out of the labor force, leaving women to support the children.


Lower education generally means higher poverty. About a fifth of people ages 25 to 34 with only a high school diploma in the United States were poor last year, compared with just 5 percent of college graduates, said Yiyoon Chung, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For those without a high school diploma, the rate was 40 percent.


Sixty-two percent of young fathers in the United States earned less than $20,000 in 2002, according to Timothy Smeeding, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, citing the most recent data available from the National Survey of Family Growth.

Even for young people with a bachelor's degree, the economy is making life difficult. Vickie Moll, who runs the day care center, said the number of applications from teachers who have lost their jobs had grown as the waves of budget cuts washed over the state. "We have people in here with bachelor's degrees making $8 an hour," she said.

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