The Working Poor: Invisible in America

The Working Poor: Invisible in America

by David K. Shipler
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The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler

"Most of the people I write about in this book do not have the luxury of rage. They are caught in exhausting struggles. Their wages do not lift them far enough from poverty to improve their lives, and their lives, in turn, hold them back. The term by which they are usually described, 'working poor,' should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." —from the Introduction

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Arab and Jew, a new book that presents a searing, intimate portrait of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty.

As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology—hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor—white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy.

We meet drifting farmworkers in North Carolina, exploited garment workers in New Hampshire, illegal immigrants trapped in the steaming kitchens of Los Angeles restaurants, addicts who struggle into productive work from the cruel streets of the nation's capital—each life another aspect of a confounding, far-reaching urgent national crisis. And unlike mostworks on poverty, this one delves into the calculations of some employers as well—their razor-thin profits, their anxieties about competition from abroad, their frustrations in finding qualified workers.

This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375408908
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/03/2004
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

DAVID K. SHIPLER reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 in New York, Saigon, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Washington, D.C. He is the author of six previous books, including the best sellers Russia and The Working Poor, as well as Arab and Jew, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and has taught at Princeton, American University, and Dartmouth. He writes online at The Shipler Report.

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The Working Poor: Invisible in America 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
-Austin- More than 1 year ago
Making the Invisible Noticed After researching the many well written books on poverty and homelessness in America, I decided to read The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler. Throughout the book, the author describes how many Americans get trapped in poverty, struggling all their life to escape. Without proper education and skills, combined with difficult housing situations, the working poor population of America often never stop working entry level jobs, making monthly payments and surviving off less than desirable conditions. Shipler immersed himself in the topic and performed years of research and observation on the working poor families in America, and by reading this book I think that one can not only further learn about the difficult living conditions of millions of fellow Americans, but it will also help the reader further appreciate how much entry level workers do at their jobs everyday. While I was reading this book, I noticed a few powerful messages and themes. The first thing that struck out as very interesting to me was how the author describes the lack of goods of entry level workers, even though they deal with these items everyday. Examples of this are a man that works at a car wash, but can not afford a car himself; a school teacher that can not afford schooling or babysitting for her own children while she is at work. The second major theme that I noticed as I read this book is how nearly impossible it is to escape from poverty once a family is in this situation. To pay the bills and get food on the table for the whole family, often times families have to borrow money to pay for everything that their minimum wage income does not cover. Once they have some debt, it just keeps growing, and this sucks someone into a never-ending cycle. To make more money, one must gain more skills or more education; the difficult thing is, to gain these things, it costs a lot of money, concluding that it is very difficult to escape poverty in America. I really liked how the author did a lot of research and involved himself in the culture of the topic. This helps spread the message and stories straight from the source: the millions of working poor Americans. I didn’t dislike much about this book, but if I had to list one thing, it would be how it was a little hard for me to keep a valid attention span while in the middle of the book, but only at rare times. Someone should read this book because it really helps one understand that there are millions of other Americans going through similar struggles. I would also recommend the book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, to anyone that enjoyed The Working Poor: Invisible in America.
VCVanessa14 More than 1 year ago
Having to read this book for my economics class, I’m glad I did so. I would have never thought anyone would have to go through what I read in the book. Having to have to worry about how to feed their kids, how to make it to work on time, not having enough money to pay bill, is a sad truth that many go through dad by day. It was an eye opener to appreciate my family and education that I receive each day. Not to take anything for granted because many don’t have the opportunities that I have. The stories Shipler shares in his book is exactly what no one wants to grow up and have to worry about. This book did an excellent job depicting the many lives in America that are right on the poverty line that are in a constant struggle. For me it wasn’t just an assignment that I had to do but a reality that could await for anyone if one is not wise in the choices they make in life. After every page that I read, I took it as a mini lecture of life. To learn from the mistakes others have made is very important.
Econj1 More than 1 year ago
When I first got this book I thought it was going to be boring, but I judged it wrong. I really like it because the people he writes about are the ones who sew your clothes, do your gardening, pick up your crops, and hand you your coffee at the local convenience store. They are your neighbors, your fellow citizens, maybe some of them are even your friends. And relatives.  The working poor, invisible in America tries to discover why in a land of plenty we have so many who go without  the very basics like food, shelter, education and health care. Those who do without are working are working the very jobs others say they should take.
BertTN More than 1 year ago
Mitt Romney and Carl Rove should read this book before making any more comments about a world sbout which they know nothing. The majority of the 47% are working with their hands and trying to survive on wages most of us would find too small to imagine. Shipler allows us through his interviews and their reports to travel to a foreign land, the land of hrad work with few rewards.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Working Poor by David K. Shipler, really explains how people in America that are on the border of the poverty line or under the federal poverty line struggle to maintain an honest living. While some people in the middle class or upper class take things for granted we never stop to realize that some people who really have nothing in comparison are struggling to stay alive. Although some of the people made some bad choices in the past, this book describes their struggles to try to get back on a steady route. But they are average people black, white, asian, latinos who are trying to earn an honest living and trying to pay their bills and work full time rather than go on welfare. So I highly recommend you read this book because in the end you will be able to understand and follow the lives of a few people and were they are now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When i first started reading this book, i thought it was going to be one of those boring books, that talks about how much people make, and a bunch of numbers that i didnt care to read about. I was definitely proved wrong. It really gives you a different perspective on the economy and poverty. There are a large majority of people out there that go to work everyday just to barely get by. I enjoyed this book because in reality you always hear how well off people are, how they have these good paying jobs, and for once its a book talking about how the lower class is surviving and the stories behind the faces you see everyday. It shows how no matter who you are, everyone has there failures in life, some bigger than others, but it doesnt mean you can't overcome them and still set out to be the best you are able to be. The life stories in this book are inspiring and touching,it makes you think twice about how you view someone. It lets you know how the American System works, how screwed up it is, and how most companies will try and get away with paying there workers as little as possible. Nothing will ever be changed, unless we as a nation try and do something to change it ourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Shipler is as interesting to listen to as to read! It is quite apparent that the federal poverty level is not accurate to conceal the continued downward spiral of the what was once the middle class. The average pay for an employee of walmart Lowe's Target or Home Depot is probably what the minimum wage should be.Many companies overstate the value of benefits to employees to exaggerate their 'overall value', a combination of wages plus benefits(many of which the employee cannot afford to partake of) which makes even your average retail worker look like they are 'doing good' but in reality are not. I know of many who barely have enough to eat and some who have been homeless while working(working very hard i might add) let alone save for retirement or a home. Until America wakes up to the suffering within it, the ranks will continue to grow with functionally poor workers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I read about the many stories of poverty and suffering, in this book. I realized that some times the hard work and the dreams of success are some times not enough to stay out of poverty in America. This book portrays the poor as people who either have made very bad chooses in life or have just given up all together, with the occasional person who works hard and is over powered by sickness or other misfortune. I would like to believe that there are more people who have worked hard but have come across difficulties along the way, forcing them into poverty. The points made in the book are still very interesting and worth taking a look at. I would recommend this book to someone interested in the learning more about the roles of the poor in our economy, or about the politics involved in the poor of america.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wakes up then stares at her smiling-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stupid inactive guy. Sh punched jak in the stomach amd walked out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
when I first started to read this book I wasn't interested but than I started reading about the families that go through crisis and go through daily struggles just to make ends meet for their families. going to a job that only pays 4 dollars an hour and getting welfare checks get taken away everytime they get paid for on their checks which isn't much more that they get its an amazing book and I recommend it to everyone
Culuriel More than 1 year ago
A "sister" book to Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed".  Both books feature detailed accounts of approximately 1/3 of America's workers still not making a living wage after doing jobs most of us haven't done since high school.  Necessary before you talk about poverty in America.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the approach used to write about such an important topic in current economic times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jcontm13 More than 1 year ago
i love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very eye opening and really showed me the true difficulties of the working poor in America. Not only did this book teach me things i never knew but it made me realize that we take the simple things for granted. These people simply want to get their children through school and have fun going to the movies just like any middle class family. This book really showed me how difficult it is to climb the ladder of wealth. What upsets me is that no matter how hard these people try, they usually can't seem to get a raise and that is very unfair and upsetting to me.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good message people work so hard but get so little
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While reading, I realized that many hard working people have to go through suffering to survive in this world. It does not matter where you come from or where you live, everyone has their ups and downs. This book portrays the lives of people holding themselves to not fall into poverty or who are in poverty. Either they made wrong choices or they had no other choice in life. The people in the book have to live from paycheck to paycheck. I recommend this book because the author analyzes the situations of real working poor people and makes you think about what this people have to go through every single day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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