Top 5 Lowest-Paying Jobs in America

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Putting in a hard day’s work doesn’t always mean you’ll have a hefty paycheck to show for it, especially if you work in the food service industry. In America, workers in this field earn the least amount of money, from the fast food cook and server to the dishwasher and counter attendant. Not only are these jobs far from glamorous, most pay less than $20,000 per year, making it virtually impossible to rise above poverty.

5 Counter Attendants

For those who work as counter attendants in cafeterias, food concessions and coffee shops, the pay is a bit better than other food service work, but not by much. On average, counter attendants make $9.34 an hour or $19,430 yearly. Although this work may be more pleasant than working in the kitchen and back areas of the restaurant preparing and cooking food, this is the only perk of the job, because it isn’t the paycheck.

4 Dishwashers

Dishwashers are the workers we don’t see when venturing into the neighborhood fast food joint or restaurant for a bite to eat, yet their work is important nonetheless. Every customer that walks in the door represents a food tray, dish, utensil or glass the dishwasher must clean. If that restaurant is in a popular location or hit by a massive rush, the dishwasher’s job becomes especially demanding. This food industry worker remains one of the lowest paid in America, earning $9.10 per hour, which amounts to approximately $18,930 yearly for full-time work.

3 Fast Food Cooks

Continuing to dominate the low-wage list is another food industry worker: the fast food cook. Ever wonder what your local McDonald’s or Burger King cook makes? An average of $9.03 per hour, or $18,780 if he works full-time. For all the discomfort, sweating and long hours slaving over hot ovens and stoves, your average fast food cook still brings home less than $20,000 per year. In real world terms, this is barely enough money to clothe and feed oneself, let alone a family if the cook has one, which many do.

2 Food Preparation and Serving Workers

The second lowest wage earners in this country are those who work in the field of food preparation and service. Requiring little to no education, these jobs pay only $9 per hour or on average $18,720 yearly for full-time workers. Adding insult to injury is the fact that workers in this field often work long hours while performing backbreaking work. These jobs also tend to be dead-end, so there’s rarely much room for job growth.

1 Shampooers

From consultation to final cut and style, visiting the local hair salon is an experience, and one for which we often pay a pretty penny. However, not everyone providing a service at your local hair establishment is making out like a bandit. In fact, the gal or guy who just shampooed your hair is probably struggling to make ends meet. Shampooers earn on average just under $9 an hour, making them the lowest paid workers in America. Their full-time salary usually amounts to a measly $18,600 per year. For many of us, this amount represents what we spend on rent or mortgage alone each year. You may want to keep this in mind during your next salon visit and give your shampooer a hefty tip in thanks. She needs it.

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