Getting by

Nickel and Dimed. By Barbara Ehrenreich. Metropolitan Books, 221pp., $23.00.

For those who remember waiting tables in college but who have never had to support a family on those wages, Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed sounds a wake-up call. America has forgotten about the working poor. Since the end of "welfare as we know it," the media have avoided the story of the many Americans who piece together two and three part-time jobs, working for six or seven dollars per hour in the restaurants and chain stores that dot our highways.

In a remarkable piece of investigative reporting, Ehrenreich went undercover with the working poor in Florida, Maine and Minnesota. In her book we learn that the fresh-faced Wal-Mart employee who unloads our carts may well be sleeping in a car. America's service economy may be all dressed up, but it has no place to go at night.


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