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.

Published:  2002
Length:  240 pages
Set in:  United States (various)