The New York Times bestselling work of undercover reportage from
our sharpest and most original social critic, with a new foreword by
Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted
Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In
1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in
part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that
a job--any job--can be the ticket to a better life. But how does
anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour?
To find out,
Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find,
and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to
Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a
cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She
lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very
quickly, she discovered that no job is truly unskilled, that even the
lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort.
She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if
you intend to live indoors.
Nickel and Dimed
reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising
generosity--a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate
stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of
Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how prosperity looks
from the bottom. And now, in a new foreword, Matthew Desmond, author
of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, explains
why, twenty years on in America, Nickel and Dimed is more
relevant than ever.