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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in…

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001)

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,064149398 (3.73)173
Recently added byj_blett, abe-ray, lyssajo, nyujournalism, klash83, private library, EmilyD1037, niwanda03
Legacy LibrariesJack Layton
  1. 30
    The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson (zhejw)
    zhejw: In the 1990s, Barbara Ehrenreich goes "undercover" to discover how low wage workers (don't) get by. In the next decade, Lisa Dodson tells the stories of some such workers and their children, but focuses her time on those who supervise and serve them, subverting the system to help.… (more)
  2. 20
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: To see how little things change...
  3. 10
    Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard (amyblue)
  4. 11
    Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan (Othemts)
    Othemts: A pair of books that show the conditions for the worker in America's least desirable jobs.
  5. 00
    Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado (4leschats)
    4leschats: Both deal with the cyclical nature of poverty and its ability to trap people.
  6. 00
    Mcquaig Linda : Canada'S Social Welfare by Linda McQuaig (bhowell)
  7. 01
    Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki (readysetgo)
    readysetgo: An opposing view to the fatalistic tone of this book.
  8. 03
    Pe sub poduri by Mike Yankoski (infiniteletters)

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» See also 173 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
Excellent book - everyone in the US should read this book. It is a revealing commentary on class inequality in the US. ( )
  anitatally | Feb 1, 2015 |
"Nickel and Dimed" is a first-hand account of professor Ehrenreich's undercover life as a working class woman – waitressing, housecleaning and working at Walmart. With candor, Ehrenreich chronicles her journey of renting a place, finding a job and trying to balance the books at the end of the month. Set in the US, it is not, as you'd expect, an easy journey by any means.

Ehrenreich writes candidly. She's very aware of her relative privilege, readily admits her failures in trying to balance her books, and even gives us a detailed account of herself when she starts losing it towards the end of several jobs. As such, the book is both eye-opening and a thoroughly enjoyable read. ( )
  jasonli | Dec 9, 2014 |
At the end of the 90's, Barbara Ehrenreich entered the world of the working poor and strove to live among them as an equal. What she found should shock every American into action. Their world of poverty, struggles to make ends meet, despite having more than one job, and lack of housing is a black eye for America. The many challenges and fear involved in trying to make ends meet enough to keep a roof over one's head and food in their stomachs are eye openers. Next time you shop at Wal-Mart, have a waitress take your order, or get your house cleaned, think of the millions who are suffering. Write your Senators. Help stop the heartbreak. ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
It's been years since I first read this book, yet I still refer to it often. The amount of effort involved in keeping a minimum wage job going in America, and the failure of the world's biggest economy to provide for it's citizens in any meaningful way, still leave me filled with gratitude that I live in a country with it's roots more firmly in socialism than capitalism.
Still looking forward to going to a tent revival as a form of entertainment one day! ( )
  kathay | Sep 26, 2014 |
I while back I read Deer Hunting With Jesus. This is kind of like that, with a different voice, that of a middle-aged woman who works (undercover, temporarily) in low-wage jobs.

In fact you may well have heard this book mentioned in the media. Published in 2001, I've seen it referenced and quoted numerous times and always meant to read it. Although I knew what it was about and what the message was, it's was still well worth the read. This is down to the brilliant descriptions. I really felt like I was immersed in these grimy worlds of America's underclass.

Unfortunately, the book hasn't dated at all. Things only became worse in America. Here in Australia, as the minimum wage is currently being looked at with a view to lowering it -- yes, lowering it -- I wish to hell more people in this country would read this book. I wonder if anyone has sent a copy to Abbott? Who thinks lowering the minimum wage will 'get unemployed youth into work'?


After Smile Or Die, I think Barbara Ehrenreich is now officially my favourite writer. ( )
  LynleyS | Sep 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Ehrenreichprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guglielmina, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gustafsson, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mostly out of laziness, I decide to start my low-wage life in the town nearest to where I actually live, Key West, Florida, which, with a population of about 25,000 is elbowing its way up to the status of a genuine city.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Very interesting, appalling narration and discussion of the writer's foray into living as does America's employed underclass, the working poor. Learning to do new tasks at each new poorly paid position, knowing no one, and unable to pay rent, eat, and take care of the bills is the daily norm for millions in this position and Ms. Ehrenreich tells it -- and shows it -- like it is.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805063897, Paperback)

Essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich has always specialized in turning received wisdom on its head with intelligence, clarity, and verve. With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.

As a waitress in Florida, where her name is suddenly transposed to "girl," trailer trash becomes a demographic category to aspire to with rent at $675 per month. In Maine, where she ends up working as both a cleaning woman and a nursing home assistant, she must first fill out endless pre-employment tests with trick questions such as "Some people work better when they're a little bit high." In Minnesota, she works at Wal-Mart under the repressive surveillance of men and women whose job it is to monitor her behavior for signs of sloth, theft, drug abuse, or worse. She even gets to experience the humiliation of the urine test.

So, do the poor have survival strategies unknown to the middle class? And did Ehrenreich feel the "bracing psychological effects of getting out of the house, as promised by the wonks who brought us welfare reform?" Nah. Even in her best-case scenario, with all the advantages of education, health, a car, and money for first month's rent, she has to work two jobs, seven days a week, and still almost winds up in a shelter. As Ehrenreich points out with her potent combination of humor and outrage, the laws of supply and demand have been reversed. Rental prices skyrocket, but wages never rise. Rather, jobs are so cheap as measured by the pay that workers are encouraged to take as many as they can. Behind those trademark Wal-Mart vests, it turns out, are the borderline homeless. With her characteristic wry wit and her unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty. --Lesley Reed

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:18 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Millions of 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 -- could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six to seven dollars an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered as a woefully inexperienced homemaker returning to the workforce. So began a grueling, hair raising, and darkly funny odyssey through the underside of working America. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. 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.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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