" 'Nobody knows or cares that I have a Ph.D., living in the trailer park,' said a former linguistics adjunct named Petra, the mother of one child, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, and was on welfare and food stamps. Michelle Belmont, a Minnesota librarian and web developer who admitted that few of her friends had any clue how broke she was, put it this way: 'Every American thinks they're a temporarily embarrassed millionaire: I am no exception.'

"These professors and other extensively trained and educated workers have all the typical problems of the Middle Precariat: debt, overwork, isolation, and shame about their lack of money. They also may have very little time for leisure, not even for a few dates over pale ale with their partners or get-togethers with friends where they can confess their woes or snicker over gossip. They take almost no holidays.

"Many of them told me that their parents were more economically comfortable than they were, even though their parents often had far fewer educational attainments. Whenever I talked to these middle Precariat parents, I also heard the ring of self-blame and ridicule. It is not a sin to have pursued a high-minded profession and to want nice things. And yet they felt like it was.

"Their lives were also unlike the more cushioned lives of their older colleagues and certainly did not resemble the trajectories they were expected to follow."