How Real Is the Squeeze?

Jonathan Thornton finally found a job this spring after six months of unemployment. "My wife and I almost parted ways after 13 years because of the financial strain," he says. When he started work in April as a crane operator at a screw manufacturer in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, Thornton treated his wife Rita to a few little luxuries--a day at the salon, an evening out with the girls. "My outlook has definitely brightened," he says. But Thornton's optimism goes only so far. His paycheck has grown, but the family is still just getting by. Thanks to rising gas prices, "it...

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