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Manicures were once for special occasions only. Now they have become a staple for women across the economic spectrum. With more than 17,000 nail salons in the United States, there are about 2,000 nail salons in New York City alone. This New York Times research article looks at the dirty little secret of exploitation of workers in the nail industry.

1. Based on the interviews, what did the New York Times find out about the pay, working conditions, and treatment of workers in this industry?
2. What is the average price of a manicure in Manhattan? How does it compare with the rest of the country? Based on the article, where are the costs shifted?
3. What are the barriers for entry to start a nail salon?
4. Explain the issue of the ethnic caste system in nail salons and how that affects wages.
5. Has there been a lack of investigations in this industry? Why? Explain.


Nir, S. (2015). The Price of Nice Nails. The New York Times, May 7 (Retrievable online at