The Lowest Paying Jobs in the U.S.

Welcome to the Era of Low-Paying Jobs

The job market may be gradually improving in the U.S., but for many Americans, good jobs are still hard to come by. Of the 10 occupations that employed the most Americans in May 2010, just one (registered nurse) paid an annual salary that exceeded the national average of $44,410, according to a new wage report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rest of these occupations, which included positions like office clerks and food prep workers, often fell far short of what the average job would pay. As previous studies have pointed out, low-paying jobs are typically the first to return after a recession, in part because businesses are more hesitant to sign contracts with higher-paid workers. Moreover, many of the sectors that typically offered better-paying jobs, like the financial services and construction industries, were hit hardest by the Great Recession. The result has been an interim period during which many underemployed Americans have little choice but to accept positions that entail significant pay cuts until better job opportunities return. But while some likely sign up for these jobs to make ends meet, working any of the positions on this list would barely accomplish even that. MainStreet combed through 2010 salary data from the BLS on nearly 800 occupations to find the 10 that offer the lowest salary of any job in the U.S. If you work one of these jobs, there really is nowhere to go but up. Photo Credit: danielmoyle


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