Photo Illustration by Elena Scotti/Fusion/GMG

Wages have been stagnant for young workers in the United States for the last two decades. Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings to fall back on in the event of some unforeseen catastropheā€”an emergency room visit or just a month of too few shifts. The federal minimum wage has been locked in at $7.25 for the last eight years, leaving a family of four $9,000 short of the federal poverty threshold even on a full-time salary.

It can be hard to make a living, and harder still to put money away to make something more than that. And while the draft budget floated by the Trump administration isnā€™t anything close to settled policy, proposed funding cuts would hit affordable housing, food assistance, the Labor Department (along with its capacity to enforce regulations that protect workers), and a running list of programs that people depend on for their literal survival.

Itā€™s a lot. And talking candidly about the ways we do and donā€™t make a livingā€”and the levels of precarity or comfort we might face in the processā€”is one way into some bigger questions about what we believe our responsibilities are to one another, and what a governmentā€™s responsibility to its citizens might be.

So Iā€™ll ask: How long could you get by if you lost your job today? How are you doing it if this is already your story?