By and large, Americans can find jobs today. But too often those jobs have wild swings in pay. A mechanic, for example, might earn $3,500 one month and then drop to around $1,000 the next, when customers don’t materialize.

The working poor and, increasingly, the middle class are in a state of “persistent anxiety” about their finances, says Jonathan Morduch, the co-author of a groundbreaking new book, “The Financial Diaries,” with Rachel Schneider.

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