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Nickel and Dimed Short Summary

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“Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich is an investigative book whereby Barbara is a journalist working undercover. She investigates the impact of the American Welfare act reformed in 1966 and its effect on the poor working class. The book contains accounts of events within 1998 and 2000. This book got published in early 2001.

The Detailed Overview

In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara aims at correcting some of the common misconceptions about the bottom pile of society. She aims at showing the obstacles that these people face that hinder the success and development of even the very determined. It is believed that the privileged in the U.S are reaping from determination and hard work while the lacking remain so due to lack of resourcefulness and motivation.

Barbara travels to Florida, Maine, and Minnesota to see whether she would survive on an unskilled laborer’s salary. In Florida, she noticed a high level of unemployment. She gets a job as a waitress after countless applications. She cannot sustain herself with the salary and gets another job on top of waitressing. She suffers exhaustion and quits the second one.

She realizes that saving is also difficult for the working poor people since they spend more on food and other various necessities. In Maine, she takes two other jobs and experiences similar exhaustion in, and she also sees how employers callously treat employees. She gets to appoint where she threatens to start a strike from the poor conditions.

In Minneapolis, she is hired by Walmart, which required a lot of interviews and training. She cannot get an apartment from her earnings and budget and hence lives in a hotel where she does not feel safe. In the three locations, Ehrenreich notices a pattern of few opportunities for the struggling, contributed to by employers profiting from their employees.

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