Special Report

25 Lowest Paying Jobs in America

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20. Parking lot attendants
> Median annual earnings: $29,172 (tied)
> Total number of workers: 58,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 0.1%
> Parking lot attendants with a bachelor’s degree: 13.1%

Parking lot attendants are some of the lowest paid workers in the United States, earning a median annual salary of just $29,172. As is often the case among the jobs on this list, no formal education is necessary to becoming a parking lot attendant. In fact, about one in every five parking lot attendants age 25 and up do not have a high school diploma.

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19. Misc. agricultural workers
> Median annual earnings: $29,016
> Total number of workers: 691,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 1.2%
> Misc. agricultural workers with a bachelor’s degree: N/A

Miscellaneous agricultural workers is a broad occupational category that includes farm equipment operators, laborers, and greenhouse workers. The typical miscellaneous agricultural worker earns just $29,016 per year, nearly $19,000 less than the typical American worker.

The gender pay gap in the miscellaneous agricultural work is smaller than it is in most jobs, with women earning about 86.4% of what their male counterparts earn. Across all occupations, women earn 81.5% as much as men do.

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18. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
> Median annual earnings: $28,808
> Total number of workers: 116,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 9.7%
> Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers with a bachelor’s degree: 8.7%

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers are one of only 18 occupational categories in the U.S. where a person working full time makes less than $29,000 a year. Like most low-paying jobs, there are no formal education requirements for cafeteria attendants and barbacks. Just 8.7% of adults working these jobs have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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17. Packers and packagers, hand
> Median annual earnings: $27,560
> Total number of workers: 467,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 -3.5%
> Packers and packagers, hand with a bachelor’s degree: 5.8%

Hand packers and packagers can have a wide range of responsibilities, including loading materials into package processing equipment, measuring and weighing materials, and recording details of shipments and deliveries. One of the lowest-paying professions in the U.S., most Americans working full time as packers and packagers earn less than $28,000 a year.

Not only is the job low paying, but it will also likely be less secure in the coming years. The BLS projects total employment in the occupation to decline by 3.5% between 2018 and 2028.

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16. Sewing machine operators
> Median annual earnings: $27,248
> Total number of workers: 138,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 -11.9%
> Sewing machine operators with a bachelor’s degree: 7.1%

Sewing machine operators is an occupational classification that includes tailors and seamstresses and other workers in textile operations. While the job requires precision control and manual dexterity, there are typically no formal education requirements. Like many jobs that do not require a college degree, sewing machine operators are not paid much. The median annual wage for the job of $27,248 is about $20,000 less than the median wage across all occupations.

According to the BLS, demand for sewing machine operators is projected to decline by nearly 12% between 2018 and 2028, likely due in part to improvements in automation.

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