The U.S. Senate recently rejected an amendment in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This means that millions of Americans will continue to live in states in which they can be paid as little as $7.25 for an hour of work.
Someone working 40 hours a week at the federal minimum wage level would take home just over $15,000 per year before taxes. Though a relatively small percentage of the U.S. labor force earns the federal minimum wage level, there are dozens of major metropolitan areas where the typical worker earns wages of less than $32,000 per year.
To identify the cities with the lowest paying jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the median annual wage in 389 metropolitan statistical areas using data from the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is important to note that our data reflects wages before the pandemic. It is likely that economic conditions in many of the cities on this list, and in others, have worsened and median wages in 2020 were even lower.
Out of the 25 metro areas with the lowest paying jobs in the U.S. in 2019, 23 were in Southern states. Residents of this region are much more likely to face poverty, low incomes, and other economic challenges. These are America’s richest and poorest states.
Geography is not the only deciding factor in determining income levels. An area’s income level This also depends on natural resources, local laws and regulations, and the population’s educational attainment. Workers with high school diplomas tend to earn higher wages than those without, and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher tend to earn also typically have higher wages earnings than those who have not finished college. These are the most educated cities in every state.