Haley says she was solidly middle class growing up. Her parents worked to send her to a prestigious college, where she became involved in extracurricular activities and completed three internships.

After graduation, Haley got a job with an interior design firm in Chicago, but a few months into her career, she received an unexpected blow. Like millions of Americans before her, Haley was laid off.

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"I was shocked," she says. "I thought I had done everything right."

Since then, Haley says she's dropped in social class and is now living at poverty level. "I never had to deal with being poor," she says. "It's humiliating."


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