Wages in the United States have recently hit their highest rate of growth since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The 3.1% increase from 2017 to 2018 is a good sign for the American economy. But the effects are not being felt evenly. millions of working Americans are earning less than $30,000 each year.
Typically, unskilled jobs — such as those in the food or customer service industries — do not pay well. Though these are often important jobs, workers can be easily replaced, whether by another unskilled worker or by automation. This drives down these jobs’ potential earnings.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest job market data from the U.S. Labor Department to determine America’s 25 lowest paying jobs.
Of the 25 lowest paying jobs, 18 are primarily held by women. According to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women make up 83% of middle skill workers who earn $30,000 or less annually and 55% of all middle skill workers, but only 36% of jobs that pay $35,000 or more. Middle-skill jobs are those that require skills and experience beyond a high school diploma — like a certification — but less than a bachelor’s degree. These jobs include those in transportation, food preparation, and packaging. According to IWPR, “The divide between men and women in middle-skill jobs is due, in part, to conventional wisdom about occupations and gender roles.” Women are also likely to be paid less than their male counterparts in the same job. There is no job in the U.S. in which women’s median annual earnings exceed $100,000.
To identify the lowest paying jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2018 median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers by detailed occupation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of workers employed in each occupation was also obtained from the BLS. The estimated yearly earnings for each occupation was calculated from the median weekly earnings figures.