When jobs go away, husbands and wives make a new deal.

NYT Mag cover story by Hanna Rosin.

Patsy Prater’s office looks like something between an executive’s and a teacher’s, her large desk crowded with neat piles of grant applications and daily logs but also with dishes of candy and other freebies for the young and old who pass through. On the bulletin board behind her head are big, colorful signs designed to remind her public-housing clients of what they are eligible for: cellphones, computer classes or prescriptions that she makes sure they have even if she has to drive them to the pharmacy herself. At the front of her desk is a photo of her “grandbaby,” who lives in Madison, Ala., three hours away. She wishes she could be there, taking care of the infant now that her daughter is back at work. “I love this job,” she said. “I know it’s where I’m supposed to be. But I am not a women’s-rights-type person. My place is in the home, and I’m fine with that, so long as my husband is earning the bacon. ’Course, that hasn’t been happening so much lately.”

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