Nickel and Dimed Summary
Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, is an award winning columnist and author of twenty-one books. Although she has her doctorate in science, she is well known as a journalist and muckraker. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other publications.
Ehrenreich pondered how unskilled, uneducated, and untrained workers can survive and thrive in the American workforce with minimum wage incomes. She was particularly interested in the staggering four million single mothers trying to live off between $6 and $7 an hour. She has witnessed firsthand her friends and family struggle immensely in the minimum wage work force, some came out on top, while others were swallowed by the system. Is it possible for a single mother to provide enough money for her family while still having enough money to pay for rent?
Having a PhD in biology, Ehrenreich naturally took a scientific approach to answering this question: an experiment. She decides to go “undercover” as a single mother working in low wage jobs to see if the small amount of money earned in low wage jobs was enough to live and pay the rent. Like all good experiments, there must be rules. First, she vows to not use any skills she learned in college or previous work. Second, she will take the absolute highest paying job available (factoring in rule number one) and do her best to keep the job. Third, she will find the cheapest possible living space, as long as it is safe and secure. Last, she will account on personal well being. Ehrenreich is brave, but not insane. She will never allow herself to be without a car, a house, or food. If her basic needs as a human cannot be met she vows to stop the experiment. Armed with curiousity and a burning will, she begins her battle with the American workforce.
Her journey begins in Key West, Florida, due to the close proximity from her current home. Her search for cheap housing...