Listen to Gary and his girlfriend Latoyia Lowe. Audio Producer: Sarah P. Reynolds

Gary Taylor, 47, plays with his kids outside their home in Fresno. More than a year ago, he lost his job at the customer service center of a food bank and had had trouble finding work since. He supports his fiancé, Latoya Lowe, and three kids, aged six, five, and three, with the six hundred dollars he gets from public assistance though he says the money does not cover all of his bills. “I’ll do any job to provide for my family,” Taylor says. “But if I don’t find anything that means I’m on the street.” However, he worries that employers will pass him over for someone younger.


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"What matters, then, given the current rules if the game, is what kind of opportunity the labor market offers to poor workers, and who among them is positioned to seize it."

- Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market, by Katherine Newman