25 Lowest Paying Jobs in America

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. Food preparation workers
> 2018 median annual earnings: $24,076
> Total workers: 473,000

Food preparation workers generally assist cooks with tasks like chopping, peeling, and preparing cold foods. As these workers operate under the supervision and direction of cooks, they are typically not as well paid as cooks — a job that also ranks on this list. The median earnings of a food preparation worker is about $24,000 in a year.

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4. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
> 2018 median annual earnings: $23,244
> Total workers: 118,000

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers, often known as bussers or bar backs, work one of just four American jobs that typically pay less than $24,000 per year. These workers clean and bus tables and provide cooks and bartenders with ingredients they need. An unskilled job that requires only brief on-the-job training, these food service jobs are projected to be in high demand in the coming years.

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3. Dishwashers
> 2018 median annual earnings: $22,932
> Total workers: 111,000

Dishwashers are commonly employed in restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and anywhere else that serves food. Washing dishes is one of the few low paying jobs that is male dominated — over 80% of dishwashers are men. A low-skill job, dishwashing is one of just three fields that usually pays less than $23,000 per year.

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2. Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
> 2018 median annual earnings: $22,672
> Total workers: 147,000

Combined food preparation and serving workers have to both prepare and serve the food, often at chain fast food establishments. These workers are often paid at or near minimum wage. As the popularity of fast food and fast casual restaurants continues to grow, the amount of jobs in the field is also expected to increase. The BLS projects this type of employment will grow 16.8% by 2024, more than double the average job growth rate.

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1. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers
> 2018 median annual earnings: $22,464
> Total workers: 108,000

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers are the lowest paid workers in the United States, earning a median wage of $432 per week, or $22,464 per year. These jobs are most common in densely-populated areas with high shares of renters who do not usually own a washing machine. Many of the lowest paying jobs in the country are generally held by younger people, but laundry and dry cleaning workers are, on average, 44.8 years old.