Key West Ehrenreich Analysis

751 Words4 Pages
Barbara Ehrenreich wonders if single mothers, who, due to recent Welfare reform, depend solely on what they can make at low-wage jobs, will be able to survive financially. To answer this question, she decides to survive on low wages in three cities in America. In the first city, Key West, Ehrenreich works at two different restaurants and as a house keeper in a hotel. She lives in an efficiency and then a trailer park. In Key West, Ehrenreich first learns that there are hidden costs to being poor. She notes that if you cannot afford the security deposit for an apartment, you are forced to live in a hotel - which is ultimately more costly. If you have only a room, you cannot save money by cooking nutritious, cheap food. If you have no health insurance, you end up with significant and costly health problems. On a particularly rough day, Ehrenreich walks off the job and never returns. Next, Ehrenreich moves to Maine because of the virtually all-white…show more content…
Ehrenreich wonders how unskilled workers survive on such meager incomes; particularly, she is interested in how the 4 million women who are about to be booted into the labor market by welfare reform are going to make it at $6 or $7 an hour. She confesses that she is not thrilled about undertaking the task herself. She remembers that even in the 1960s, when her fellow college students sought jobs in factories to organize the working class, she was not interested. She has witnessed various loved ones pull themselves out of the misery that can be associated with low-wage work. Ehrenreich decides to consider the project a scientific experiment, as she has a Ph.D. in biology. She learns that in 1998, 30 percent of the workforce works for $8 an hour or less. She cannot imagine how these people survive, and wants to uncover their
Open Document