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February 20, 2009

At work

When the economy makes big news, many photographs of people at work come across the wires, usually to help illustrate a particular story or event. By collecting these disparate photos over the past few months, I found that a global portrait emerged of we humans producing things. People assembling, generating, and building items small and large, mundane and expensive, trivial and important. I hope you enjoy this look into some people's work lives around the world. (45 photos total)

Electric Time Co. employee Walter Rodriguez cleans the face of an 84-inch Wegman clock at the plant in Medfield, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

An aerial view of the snow covered Ruhr district, with the steel company ThyssenKrupp in Duisburg, western Germany, is seen. ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany's largest steelmaker, said Friday Feb. 13, 2009 company profits dropped sharply in the fiscal first quarter and that it would cut jobs as the world economic crisis caused a sharp fall in demand for steel. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) #

A worker walks past chicken eggs stored at a major eggs production factory in suburban Beijing, China, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008. Three more Chinese brands of eggs containing melamine were identified and a local government has acknowledged that officials knew about the contamination for a month before it was publicly disclosed. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #

Miller Brady Hageman checks roller mills as wheat is ground into flour to make pasta at the American Italian Pasta Co. plant in Excelsior Springs, Mo. Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A worker walks over steel bars at an iron and steel plant in Wuhan, Hubei province, China on November 1, 2008. Moves by China to restrict steel exports may push trade distortion problems into other industries down the line and run counter to world rules, a U.S. trade official said. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

Workers perform a quality check for newly made toys at the production line of a toy factory in the suburbs of Shanghai October 31, 2008. According to the owner of the factory, where most of the production is for export to the U.S and Japan, the slowdown of about 30% in client's orders can be mainly attributed to the global financial crisis. The number of Chinese firms exporting toys overseas halved in the first seven months of 2008, compared to the year before, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday. (REUTERS/Nir Elias) #

An operator walks in the control room of the closed third unit of the nuclear power plant of Kozlodui north east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Friday, Jan. 23, 2009. Bulgaria's parliament has approved plans to seek European Union permission to re-launch two old nuclear reactors mothballed when it joined the EU two years ago. The two aging 440-megawatt reactors at the Kozlodui plant were shut down in 2007. The government says Bulgarian businesses lost euro100 million (US$129 million) when Russian natural gas supplies were suspended for nearly two weeks. (AP Photo/Petar Petrov) #

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits the Pyongyang Gum Factory in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated picture released by North Korea's official news agency KCNA on January 16, 2009. (REUTERS/KCNA) #

An employee works at a workshop of Changning Steel and Iron Factory in Changzhi, Shanxi province, China on January 15, 2009. European Union trade officials will vote on Thursday in favor of imposing temporary antidumping duties of 25 percent on imports of Chinese-made steel wire rods, diplomats said. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A woman spins raw silk yarn in a factory owned by Rwandan textile firm Utexwra in Rwanda's capital city, Kigali on January 19, 2009. Rwandan textile firm Utexrwa will launch the central African country's first range of silk products in February, as part of a strategy to more than triple turnover, the company said on Monday. The central African country's soil and climate are ideal for growing mulberry trees which silk-worms eat. The company said silk-worm rearers can earn three times more than coffee growers per hectare per year. (REUTERS/Hereward Holland) #

People work on an assembly line of shoes at Thuong Dinh Shoe factory in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008. Thuong Dinh Shoe factory produces shoes for domestic markets and for exports. Shoe exports are among top of Vietnam's export earners, earning $4 billion last year.(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki) #

Labourers work at a brick factory in Takarjul village in India - about 60 km (37 miles) south of the city of Agartala on February 3, 2009. (REUTERS/Jayanta Dey) #

A laborer's hands are covered with paraffin wax inside a candle making factory in the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri October 24, 2008. Candles are sold in large numbers during Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights, when people buy candles to decorate their homes. The Diwali festival was celebrated across the country on October 28. (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri) #

Eladio Gonzalez sands and buffs Oscar #3453 at R.S. Owens & Company Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009, in Chicago. Oscar 3453 began its life with the transformation of a chunk of metal alloy into a 13 1/2-inch-tall statue at the factory where the statuettes have been made since 1983. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) #

Pralines pass by on a conveyor belt at the Halloren Schokoladenfabrik AG chocolate factory in Halle, Germany, on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Halloren is one of the few eastern German companies that has not been bought by a competitor after the country's reunification. (Adam Berry/Bloomberg News) #

The Boeing 787 line is shown at Boeing Co.'s airplane assembly plant in Everett, Wash., Friday, Jan. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) #

A worker assembles a miniature locomotive at the Maerklin model train factory March 30, 2006 in Goeppingen, Germany. Maerklin is one of many German smaller manufacturing companies with rich traditions who have suffered under falling demand for their high-priced products. (Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images) #

An employee works at a mobile phone assembly line at a LG Electronics plant in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, South Korea in this picture released on January 22, 2009. (REUTERS/LG Electronics/Handout) #

A coal worker stacks wood in the Cienega de Zapata, Cuba on February 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa) #

A worker inspects newly-made gloves at Top Glove factory in Klang outside Kuala Lumpur on January 13, 2009. Malaysia's Top Glove Corp is the world's largest producer of rubber gloves. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #

An employee works at a Changning Steel and Iron Factory in Changzhi, Shanxi province, China on January 15, 2009. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A worker at the Elite Thai Leather factory inspects a dyed crocodile skin in Bangkok, Thailand on October 27, 2008. Craftsman whip tough Thai crocodile hides into any style of luxury handbag a fashion designer desires. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images) #

In this Nov. 28, 2007 file photo, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAP) are assembled at the Force Protection factory in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photos/Alice Keeney, File) #

A person works in a facility at Arura Tibetan Medicine Group, a Tibetan medicine enterprise ranked number one in China, on November 21, 2008 in Xining of Qinghai Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images) #

A man picks a bottle at an assembly line inside the Taiwan Beer factory in Jhunan, Miaoli County February 13, 2008. Taiwan Beer, made by the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp, will be sold in mainland China from May, amid warming ties between the two cross-strait rivals, according to local media. (REUTERS/Nicky Loh) #

Obama cigars ready to be packed in boxes are placed on a table at the Segovia Cigars Factory in the Nicaragua's northern province of Esteli February 4, 2009. While U.S. President Barack Obama tries to kick an old smoking habit, a Nicaraguan company has produced the latest in a flood of merchandise trying to cash in on his popularity -- "Obama" cigars. (OSWALDO RIVAS/Reuters) #

A woman works in a textile factory in Suining in southwest China's Sichuan province, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. (AP Photo) #

A Belarussian man works in a felt boot factory in Smilovichi, some 35 km east of Minsk on February 5, 2009. Felt boots for cold winter conditions called "valenky" are common throughout Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Latvia. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images) #

An employee works at the Ferronikeli smelting complex in Glogovac, central Kosovo February 12, 2009. The Ferronikeli ore mining and metallurgical complex, set up in 1984, was badly damaged during the 1999 NATO air strikes against Serbia. It was bought by a consortium of international investors in 2006. (REUTERS/Hazir Reka) #

A worker at Iraqi's Iskandariyah power plant works on a broken electricity-generating turbine shaft February 11, 2009 in Iskandariyah, Iraq. Built in the early 1980s, the Iskandariyha plant is Iraq's largest and most important, providing a significant percentage of the country's total electrical power. Years of neglect by Saddam's government, as well as a 1991 aerial strike by the US during the Persian Gulf War, have left the plant hobbled and sometimes only operating at half capacity. The plant burns Iraq's plentiful crude oil to generate power with almost no modern environmental regulations while its employees, numbering over 1000, work on dirty, oil-slicked floors with little safety equipment. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images) #

A worker keeps track of finished cars at the assembly line for the VW Golf at the Volkswagen car factory on November 14, 2008 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #

Workers ignite a kiln at a brick factory in Guruwali village on the outskirts of Amritsar, India on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Brick making is an unorganized industry, generally confined to rural and semi-urban areas and is one of the largest employment-generating industries in India. The laborers usually work for 12-14 hours a day to reach a target of 1,000 bricks a day, earning between US$ 60 to 100 a month. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) #

Chinese workers labor in a factory making zippers in Jinjiang, China's Fujian province Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. (AP Photo) #

A laborer works on a toilet bowl for export, at a ceramic factory in Tangshan, Hebei province, China on October 15, 2008. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A worker walks over hot steel plates at the factory of Swiss Steel AG which is partly owned by the Schmolz + Bickenbach group in Emmenbruecke, outside Lucerne, Switzerland on October 15, 2008. (REUTERS/Michael Buholzer) #

An employee works in a textile factory in Suining, Sichuan province, China October 22, 2008. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

Child laborers sit at a police station after they were removed from a factory during a raid by policemen and activists of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or "save childhood" movement, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. 34 child laborers were rescued from a local embroidery factory. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) #

Workers operate product lines in a dairy factory of Mengniu Dairy Group Co., one of China's largest dairy producers, in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia region, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. China's dairy giants are trying to revive their brands and win back consumer confidence, saying melamine contamination problems that have tarnished the industry won't resurface. Nearly 6,000 Chinese babies remain hospitalized with kidney problems caused by contaminated milk powder, the Health Ministry said. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #

Chinese workers make umbrellas at a factory in Jinjiang, southeastern China's Fujian province on November 11, 2008. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

A person works with a gunpowder mixture inside a firecracker factory on the outskirts of the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri October 21, 2008. (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA) #

A technical expert inspects a still in the distillery of the Hennessy factory in Cognac, southwestern France, January 22, 2009. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau) #

An employee prepares gold bars for transport at a plant owned by Argor-Heraeus SA in the southern Swiss town of Mendrisio November 13, 2008. (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann) #

A worker inspects machinery at a zipper factory in Jinjiang, southeast China's Fujian province on October 18, 2008. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

A laborer walks over newly-made pipes at a cement plant in Yingtan, Jiangxi province, China on October 28, 2008. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a group of city officials, (bottom right), watch as the cutter head of a tunnel boring machine is lifted by crane before being lowered into an underground assembly chamber beneath 11th Avenue at 25th Street for use in the Number 7 subway line extension project Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 in New York. The cutter head, 22 feet in diameter and weighing 100 tons, is the first piece of two massive tunnel boring machines that will slice through Manhattan bedrock as they bore underneath 11th Avenue from 25th Street to 41st Street, and then east to the existing Number 7 line's terminus at Times Square. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow) #