MONEY
10/03/2012 02:09 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

'The American Dream Doesn't Exist For People Like Us Anymore'

FILE-In this Tuesday, May 1, 2012, file photo, worker Khan Simom, of Boston, glues cushions to unfinished shoes during the as
FILE-In this Tuesday, May 1, 2012, file photo, worker Khan Simom, of Boston, glues cushions to unfinished shoes during the assembly process at the New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. factory in Boston. .S. companies added to their stockpiles in May, but their sales fell for a second straight month. Business stockpiles grew 0.3 percent in May from April, matching April's increase, the Commerce Department reported Monday, July 16, 2012. Total business sales fell 0.1 percent in May, matching the April decline. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Jim Ellis had a job with benefits but gave it up for a shot at something with a bright future, if he could just get his foot in the door.

In this part of the country, that meant he wanted to work for Caterpillar Inc., the construction equipment powerhouse. Now the Canton, Ill., resident is on the morning shift at the company's East Peoria plant, installing fenders on tractors and working on hydraulic lines, a manufacturing job description that once promised an American middle-class lifestyle.

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