Americans" working lives are growing more precarious every day. Corporations slash employees by the thousands, and the benefits and pensions once guaranteed by "middle-class" jobs are a thing of the past.
In "Bait and Switch" (Henry Holt paperback, $13) Barbara Ehrenreich goes back undercover to explore another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with the plausible r"sum" of a professional "in transition," she attempts to land a "middle-class" job.
She submits to career coaching, personality testing and "boot camps"; she attends job fairs, networking events and evangelical job-search ministries. She is proselytized, scammed, lectured and " again and again " rejected.
"Bait and Switch" highlights the people who have done everything right " gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills and built up impressive r"sum"s " yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster.
There are few social supports for these newly disposable workers, Ehrenreich discovers, and little security even for those who have jobs. Worst of all, there is no honest reckoning with the inevitable consequences of the harsh new economy; rather, the jobless are persuaded that they have only themselves to blame.
Alternately hilarious and tragic, "Bait and Switch," like the classic "Nickel and Dimed," is a searing expos" of the cruel new reality in which we all now live.