Note: This post was updated to add audio from Morning Edition.
Jestina Clayton learned how to braid hair as a girl growing up in Sierra Leone. When she was 18, she moved to America. Got married, had a couple kids, went to college.
When she graduated from college, she found that the pay from an entry-level office job would barely cover the cost of child care. So she decided to work from her home in Utah and start a hair-braiding business.
For decades, when you slid into a booth at a diner or a local coffee shop, the waitress probably arrived with a standard-issue, off-white mug. More than likely that mug came from the Ohio River town of East Liverpool, which calls itself "The Pottery Capital of the Nation."
A lot of that city's pottery business is long gone. Now, one of the few remaining pottery factories in the battered town is pinning its survival on a major corporation.
To step inside American Mug and Stein in East Liverpool is to step into another era.
In a study (pdf) released today, the Federal Reserve reports that Americans saw a record drop in their wealth between the years 2007 to 2010. Driven primarily by plummeting home values, families' median net worth dropped 38.8 percent, to levels last seen 18 years ago.