Special Report

The 25 Lowest-Paying Jobs in America

Many American workers struggled to make ends meet in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the U.S. economy. About 22 million workers lost their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic, and by December 2020, there were still 10 million fewer jobs than before COVID-19 hit. The brunt of job losses fell on lower-income workers — they were more likely to have their hours cut or lose their jobs altogether compared to higher-income workers. 

Nationwide, the median earnings across all jobs in 2020 was $984 per week, or $51,168 for the year. Yet there are dozens of jobs in which most workers earned weekly wages that translate to less than $32,000 that year.

To identify the lowest paying jobs in America 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on median weekly wage for over 500 detailed occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey program.

Many of the lowest paying jobs in America are in the service industry. These jobs have long paid relatively low wages as they typically do not require any kind of career experience or formal education. There is a strong correlation between education and income, and nearly all of the lowest paying jobs require little to no education, while the majority of the highest paying jobs in the country generally require at least a bachelor’s degree — though there are a few exceptions. These are the highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree.

Of the 25 lowest paying jobs, 17 have majority-female workforces. Women are often steered into lower-wage occupations like home health aides or child care workers because of factors like traditional gender roles and parental status. Women still tend to earn less money than men, even if they work the same job — even the 25 highest paying jobs for women still pay men more for the same work.

Click here to see the 25 lowest paying jobs in America.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.