Nickel and Dimed
A review of

Nickel and Dimed

Undercover in Low-Wage USA

Bleak Prospects

by David Meyer

Barbara Ehrenreich reports with compassion and detail on the plight of America’s low-wage workers, whom she joined to research this heartbreaking indictment.

A Painful Journey

In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich joined the working poor. This classic is her report on that experience. As welfare reform was pushing millions of Americans into the workforce, she demonstrated that no one could survive on minimum wage without government assistance. Ehrenreich, then a successful writer and reporter, details working poverty-level jobs for a month each in Florida, Maine and Minnesota.

What you don’t necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you’re actually selling is your life.Barbara Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich reports eloquently on the working poor eating potato chips for dinner and sleeping in fleabag motels, because she did the same. She found that minimum-wage workers can get by only if they don’t fall ill, need dental work or suffer a car wreck. She states that she hopes her reporting raises awareness of how her temporary colleagues toiled in poverty and invisibility.

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