Special Report

The Worst Jobs in America

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5. Enlisted military personnel
> Median annual wages: N/A
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: N/A
> Total employment: N/A

Serving in the U.S. military differs from most jobs on this list as military personnel choose to serve their country. It may therefore seem unfair to list them among the “worst” jobs, yet they do face very high stress and one of the most difficult working environments possible — especially those serving in combat zones. Meanwhile, many often earn less than $30,000 a year.

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4. Retail salesperson
> Median annual wages: $24,200
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: +1.7%
> Total employment: 4,448,120

As a customer-facing job, retail sales workers have a relatively challenging work environment. The job is also one of the lowest paid jobs in the country, with a median annual income of $24,200 — well below the U.S. median of $37,690. The job market for the position is projected to grow at less than 2% by 2026, well below the growth for the average job. The continued rise of online shopping and the struggles of brick-and-mortar retailers may have an even greater impact than anticipated on the number of retail workers.

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3. Newspaper reporter
> Median annual wages: $41,260
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: -10.0%
> Total employment: 37,140

The number of newspaper reporters is projected to drop 10% by 2026 as newspapers lose readers and ad revenue. Reporters often face intense scrutiny from readers, added to the stress of print deadlines. In an increasingly polarized political environment, reporters are often inundated with negative feedback from readers and even some death threats.

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2. Logger
> Median annual wages: $40,650
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: -12.6%
> Total employment: 37,400

Logging ranks as the second worst job in America, in large part because it also ranks as the second most dangerous job. There were 55 fatal injuries and 350 nonfatal injuries among loggers in 2017. Since it is such a dangerous job, many companies are looking into automating the process of felling trees by hand. This may explain the projected 12.6% decrease in logging jobs by 2026. Even when done safely, logging is very physically strenuous and does not pay especially high wages.

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1. Taxi driver
> Median annual wages: $25,980
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: +5.0%
> Total employment: 207,920

The combination of low pay, slow employment growth, high stress, and an undesirable work environment has made taxi driving the worst job in America. Taxi drivers work all hours of the day, sometimes in inclement weather, dealing with traffic jams and potentially unruly or rude passengers. Most taxi drivers earn less than $26,000 per year, as compared to the median American annual wage of $37,690. Though the number of taxi drivers is projected to increase by about 5% by 2026, this growth may be curtailed by the rise of ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.