If you were part of a working-class American family in the late 1800s living in an urban environment, life would have been difficult. The breadwinners, primarily men, probably would have worked in a factory or at a trade. The upper working-class men could have been foreman in charge of the skilled or unskilled labor and would have enjoyed better monetary benefits. However, if you were an unskilled worker, wages were low and working conditions were poor and included working long hours. Industrial accidents were common, and the fear of injury or even death at work was an everyday worry.
If the women had to work, their jobs were limited to factory work or work as domestic servants or seamstresses. They faced the same difficulties as the men, such as low wages and long hours. Many children also went to work before the age of twelve. They could not work the machinery in the factories and were considered unskilled labor, working under extremely difficult conditions with little sunlight or exercise. Also, many children died in infancy due to lack of medical care and the spread of infectious diseases.
Lastly, you would have probably lived in a cramped apartment with nine to ten people jammed into a small area. These apartments would have been near the factories, so the neighborhoods would not have been pleasant. The biggest household expense would have been food, and your diet would have been limited. Life would have been a struggle at this time.