United States of Work

What if the U.S. labor force were 10 people?

Our re-imagining of the 164 million people who make this economy work.

United States of Work

Meet the People

New York City, NY
New York City, NY

Michael, certified public accountant

Portland, OR
Portland, OR

Neil, bartender

Boise, ID
Boise, ID

Ashley, hair stylist

Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN

Stephanie, executive director of an independent movie theater

Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA

Rocio, construction worker

Kansas City, MO
Kansas City, MO

Steve, professional driver

Logan, OH
Logan, OH

Scott, family physician

Centennial, CO
Centennial, CO

Kate, new account representative

Ashburn, VA
Ashburn, VA

Gaile, cashier

St. Paul, MN
St. Paul, MN

Derrick, community college dean

United States of Work

How and why we chose these 10 people

From This Collection

“I’ve never seen so many Help Wanted signs”

May 4, 2021
A view of the strong labor market in a rural Ohio town.
Dr. Scott Anzalone, a physician in Logan, Ohio, says tourists seeking rentals have injected cash into the local economy.
Photo courtesy of Scott Anzalone

For small-business owners, “it’s just never-ending”

Mar 17, 2021
An independent hairstylist reflects on her newfound respect for small-business ownership after a year on her own.
Hairstylist Ashley Nelson’s private suite in downtown Boise, Idaho. She's looking to grow and bring people with her.
Courtesy of Ashley Nelson

Why this unemployed bartender feels “betrayed” by the nation's safety net

Mar 4, 2021
Neil Cairns of Portland, Oregon, is finding that returning to work is a tough job.
"I'm casting my net as wide as I can," says former bartender Neil Cairns about his search for work.
Thomas Patterson

The pandemic as seen by a high-school senior and his older brother

Feb 17, 2021
“It's very easy to just stay in your room all day and not let anybody know what's happening to you,” says student AJ Williams.
CPA Michael Durant, right, and his younger brother, AJ Williams. The brothers lost their mother to COVID, and Williams is missing his freedom because of the quarantine.
Maria Hollenhorst/Marketplace

Despite challenges, this movie theater operator is optimistic about the future

Jan 28, 2021
“While streaming is a reality, it’s not communal,” said Stephanie Silverman of Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre. People “will want to be out in the world again.”
An empty screening room at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, which has been closed for indoor screenings since Jan. 1.
(Courtesy of the Belcourt Theatre)

A view of the vaccine rollout from rural America

Jan 8, 2021
Dr. Scott Anzalone, a family physician and president of the school board in Logan, Ohio, talks about pandemic challenges.
"It's tough to find someone who's willing to come into a rural community," Dr. Scott Anzalone says of finding a partner for his practice, above.
Cassidy Brauner

How one family is looking ahead to a post-pandemic world

Dec 9, 2020
After a dark year, New York City Accountant Michael Durant says he’s “starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
New York City accountant Michael Durant says he's beginning to see "light at the end of the tunnel" after a difficult year.
Henry Guttmann Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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An unemployed bartender’s search for work and stability

Dec 2, 2020
“There’s just a lot of people applying for not a lot of jobs,” says Neil Cairns of Portland, Oregon.
With many bars and restaurants closed or struggling to stay open, there's stiff competition for jobs in the industry.
Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

How this independent movie theater reopened for in-person screenings

Nov 30, 2020
Individual donations and corporate philanthropy have helped the Belcourt’s bottom line.
Seats roped off for social distancing inside one of the Belcourt Theatre’s screening rooms in Nashville.
Courtesy of the Belcourt Theater

“I can do better”

Sep 4, 2020
How 2020 changed this new college grad’s priorities.
Kate Bellino had a plan for 2020. But the coronavirus pandemic, the killing of George Floyd and protests over racial justice changed her priorities.
(Photo by Matt Staver)