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Falling down the economic ladder

Americans who have fallen below the middle class in recent years talk about the November election.

John Makely / NBC News

Kevin Kisich and his son Sukhothai, 10, review the day's math homework in Lafayette, Colorado.
Kevin Kisich was a research scientist for twenty years until his funding ran out in 2008. Now he builds furniture.

By Allison Linn, NBC News

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Four years ago, Kevin Kisich was likely to be found in a lab, working on ways to fight diseases like measles, or on a plane traveling the world to attend conferences.

These days, Kisich, 51, is more likely to be found in his woodworking barn, building tables out of local cottonwood trees, or picking up his 10-year-old son from school and attending his regular football practices.

The lifestyle change isn’t bad, but it also isn’t by choice: After losing his $85,000-a-year job as an immunologist in 2008 because he couldn’t get funding, Kisich applied for hundreds of local jobs in his field. When nothing panned out, he said he saw few options besides starting his own business making home furnishings. He expects to earn maybe $24,000 this year. Follow this link to read the full story on the Economy Watch blog.

John Makely / NBC News

Kevin Kisich was a research scientist for twenty years until his funding ran out in 2008. Now he builds furniture in Lafayette, Colorado.

Deanne Fitzmaurice for NBC News

Michelle Guerrero of Reno, Nevada reviews homework with her daughter Elizabeth, 7.
Duerrero has decided to go back to school after she was unable to find work.

David Friedman / NBC News

Helen Tucker, right, speaks with respiratory therapist Erin Rhamstine after taking a pulmonary function test on in Virginia Beach, Va. Tucker lost her job at the beginning of the recession and had to leave her hometown and take a drastic pay cut to find work. Now without health insurance she's paying out-of-pocket as medical expenses grow from a respiratory problem.

David Friedman / NBC News

Helen Tucker, left, takes a pulmonary function test in Virginia Beach, Va. Tucker lost her job at the beginning of the recession and had to leave her hometown and take a drastic pay cut to find work. Now without health insurance she's paying out-of-pocket as medical expenses grow from a respiratory problem.

John Makely / NBC News

Christopher Anno of Denver, Colorado recently left the military and took the first job he could find. Now he works in an accounting office and feels lucky to have the job, but it isn't enough.

John Makely / NBC News

Joseph Brechtel of Loveland , Colorado used to make over $80k per year and now delivers pizzas.

Ann Johansson for NBC News

Lewis Lemons III, 32, poses for photographs with his twin sons Avery, 9, front, and Jayden, in a motel room where the homeless family is staying, at the Airport Inn in Riverside, Ca. Lemons has multiple degrees but has not been able to find a job which pays more than he used to make befiore his post-graduate work.

John Makely / NBC News

A series of job losses has one Pennsylvania family worried about falling down the economic ladder.

 Related: Read other stories from our Down the Ladder series