Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

February 9, 2009
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Bestselling novel Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, also author of books The Soul Mate and This Land is Their Land, entertains millions of readers with her journeys as an undercover journalist in the field of low-wage jobs. From waitress to Wal-Mart associate, she gives readers insight into the lives of the less fortunate who sometimes cannot scrape up enough money to buy even a bag of potato chips. As she moves around to different locations in the United States, she realizes many factors remain the same. The hours are brutal, the pay is petty, and the working conditions are repulsive. As one flips through the pages of the enticing novel, her argument is clear. She wants to change the opinion that the minimum-wage workers are not lazy, just trapped in poverty.

Ehrenreich informs America about the expenses exceeding the average income of a minimum-wage worker, and how most people depend on family for help. With rent typically charging up to $1,000 a month, she documented that most of her co-workers crammed in the cheapest of apartments with other relatives, or if by one self, live in your own vehicle. Not only does the author note that most work for an average of around six dollars an hour, but they have to work seven days a week. When the author asked a fellow associate in Maine what she would like most, she replied a few days off to spend with her children.

Ehrenreich's firsthand account of life in low-wage America has inspired nationwide campaigns for suitable living wages. She helps deliver a perceptiveness of America's poor so visibly and frankly, and transmitting with it an ethical fury. With her book receiving recognition for its alarming facts, she just might ignite a revolution in the minimum-wage working environments.

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