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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

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

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)

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“There’s not really any work left to do”

Aug 20, 2020
A bartender’s diary before the bar he works in closes permanently.
Bartender Neil Cairns at work in Portland's Game Knight Lounge. Pandemic conditions have reduced Game Knight's customer traffic to a trickle.
(Thomas Patterson for Marketplace)

Navigating the pandemic when “every decision is an individual decision”

Jul 27, 2020
With mixed messaging coming from the government, community college dean Derrick Lindstrom says acting appropriately comes down personal choices.
Community college Dean Derrick Lindstrom with his wife, Christina, kids Ella and Charles, and dog Lucie.
Courtesy Derrick Lindstrom

For some, navigating the pandemic is like “walking on a sheet of ice”

Jul 16, 2020
Tax accountant Michael Durant is seeing his small business clients through a storm, but facing another at home.
Certified Public Accountant Michael Durant said trying to survive the pandemic is "like walking on a sheet of ice" for some of his small business clients. "You're just trying to get to the other side and hoping that it maintains," he said.
Friso Gentsch/DPA/AFP via Getty Images