Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, record-breaking numbers of Americans have filed for jobless claims on a weekly basis. Today, even after many businesses have reopened, millions of Americans remain unemployed or furloughed, while others are being forced to take part-time or lower-paying full-time jobs to make ends meet.
Prior to the pandemic, the typical American working full time — often defined as at least 35 to 40 hours a week — earned about $47,684 in 2019. There are, however, several common jobs held by millions of Americans that pay about half that amount.
Using median wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 lowest-paying jobs in America. The rankings are based on 2019 median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers by detailed occupation, multiplied by 52. Median earnings by gender, total employment by occupation, 10-year employment growth projections, and educational attainment by occupation also came from the BLS.
Many higher-paying jobs are typically those that require greater specialization and higher levels of education. Meanwhile, occupations with lower wages often do not have any formal education requirements and only require some on-the-job training. In every job on this list, the share of workers 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree is far lower than the 37.6% share of all workers in the labor force with a degree.
The vast majority of the lowest-paying jobs in the United States are more commonly held by women. Additionally, in nearly every job on this list, the average earnings among female workers is lower than the average earnings among men.
Due in large part to increased reliance on automation, many manual labor jobs will increasingly become less common in the coming years. Still, overall employment is projected to climb over the decade between 2018 and 2028 in all but a handful of occupations on this list, according to the BLS. In the majority of these jobs, demand for workers is projected to increase faster than the 5.2% projected employment growth across all industries. Many of these occupations are in food service and health care. Here is a look at the jobs with the best job security.