Transcript for A Look Into America's Shrinking Middle Class
We are back with a closer look at America's changing middle class. Diane sawyer spent more than a year talking to working families about their challenge, struggles and hopes for "My reality: A hidden America" and Diane is back. So great to see you. This ryal, families working so hard to keep their heads above water. This started a year and a half ago when we posted is what is the American dream online and we're overwhelmed by these responses of people working so hard and trying to hold on and the struggle behind closed doors of your neighbors in all neighborhoods around the country and we went to Pennsylvania, the heart of Pennsylvania, 40 out of 68 firefighters, full time firefighters there are having to work a second job. Many of them three jobs in order to get by and you're going to meet right now Chris Smith, he is a firefighter working three jobs. We followed him. It's his first job as a firefighter. 15 straight hours. Chris makes us a video diary as six emergency calls come into the firehouse one after the other. We are heading out on a call, possible structure fire. Reported smoke. Hello. Hi, daddy. How was your day? Daddy. Let's go make macaroni. Reporter: His wife, baby Ella and toddler, little Christopher. So how many calls you have? Two calls. Just two? Yes. You always say to people who are hurt. Did you see the gas bill. Reporter: They bought a house in the neighborhood where the public schools are good. Ready? Open up. They have a 30-year mortgage and also paying down student loans which totaled $75,000. I'm going to get ready for work. I love you. Reporter: They tell us that they bought some used furniture online. They only eat out once a year on their anniversary. They buy toothpaste and razors with coupons and Chris shows us the one pair of shoes he uses for going out to like church. They are ten years old. I can't tell you the last time my wife and I bought anything for our selves. Reporter: Then when the Smiths thought they could come in on their budget, two surprises. His health care premiums were jacked up 30% in the past two years. And a storm flooded the backyard. At the end of each month, how much do you have left. Really nothing. And that is just to keep up with the necessities and to pay down that student debt having to work 15 hours three different jobs and this other story coming up which I still can't believe. A man with a four-hour commute. Each way. Four hours each way. He can't afford to live near the work. He can't afford a car so he goes by bike, by train, by bus, by foot and he's been doing it for ten years. And we're going to tell you what happened. A full work day just commuting. That's right. And then he works a workday as well. And we're going to tell you so many of these stories also let you gauge is your house middle class? Do you know about the middle class? Do you know the reality of the middle class? We'll follow them for a year. First year of the new presidency coming in and also we talk to people about solutions including business leaders. Such a critical issue. Can't wait to watch it tonight. See her "20/20" special "My reality: A hidden America" right here on ABC. In response a lot of tweets coming in. This one said the most frustrating part for me is I have a college degree and more in education and I still have to work two jobs and I remember meeting this woman in Iowa when I was there for the caulks and that's what people are having to deal with. Part of the story. Yeah, that is. Be watching and people are also saying Thelma and Louise back together again also. I think I tweeted that.
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