Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
In the wake of the 1996 American welfare reforms, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to go undercover as a member of the working class. She worked as a waitress in Florida, a maid and nursing home attendant in Maine, and a retail worker in Minnesota. Her experiences were varied, but in the end she came to some overarching and unsurprising conclusions — that it's near-impossible to live a healthy, happy life on minimum wage.
Readers who have worked in low-paying jobs in the service industry will find much of the book unsurprising (and sometimes maddening), but for others this book may be an eye-opener.
"My guess is that the indignities imposed on so many low-wage workers — the drug tests, the the constant surveillance, being 'reamed out' by managers — are part of what keeps wages low. If you're made to feel unworthy enough, you may come to think that what you're paid is what you're worth."
Barbara Ehrenreich is a journalist and author. Her books include Living with a Wild God, Nickel and Dimed, and This Land is Their Land. In 2011, she began the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, which promotes excellence in reporting on poverty.
Length: 240 pages
Set in: United States (various)