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

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

Nickel and Dimed is the story of veteran journalist Barbara Ehrenreich’s investigation into low-wage America. Before she left her normal life to pursue this project, she already knew something of the problems that these workers endure because of her research into other social issues. Ehrenreich had suggested to the editor of Harper’s Magazine that someone should do an investigative piece about this group, but she never thought at the time that she would be the person to dig deep into the lives of the working poor in America.

During her investigation, she worked at several different jobs including being a waitress, a hotel maid, a nursing-home dietary aide, a residential maid, and a Wal-Mart salesperson. She traveled to Florida, Maine, and Minnesota to do a more thorough survey of the low-wage jobs. Ehrenreich used just the money she earned in order to pay for food, housing, and transportation. She quickly uncovered the physical and mental stress of working in unskilled employment.

Author Barbara Ehrenreich received her Ph.D. in biology from Rockefeller University in 1968. Afterwards she did not continue in the field of science--rather she began a journalism career where she is a frequent writer for publications such as Time, Harper’s Magazine, The New Republic, and The Nation. Ehrenreich often investigates problems in social issues. In 2009, she received the American Sociological Association’s Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Award.