In 2010, more Americans lived below the poverty line than at any time since 1959, when the U.S. Census Bureau began collecting this data. In 2011, Kira Pollack, Director of Photography at TIME, commissioned photographer Joakim Eskildsen to capture the growing crisis, affecting nearly 46.2 million Americans.
Based on census data, the places with the highest poverty rates were chosen when Eskildsen, together with journalist Natasha del Toro, traveled to New York, California, Louisiana, South Dakota and Georgia over seven months to document the lives of the people behind the statistics.
The people Joakim Eskildsen has portrayed-people who struggle to make ends meet, who have lost their jobs or homes and often live in unhealthy conditions-usually remain invisible in the American society to which the myth of the American Dream is still very strong. Many of the people held there was no such dream anymore-merely the American Reality.