Three weeks ago, we profiled the best-paying jobs in America. All but one of the top 10 are in medicine. Now, let's take a closer look at the worst-paying jobs in the country, organized from lowest-paying to highest-paying.
Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by MSNBC.
No. 1: Food preparer
Workers in the food-service industry have the distinction of being the lowest-paid in the country. The average wage for a food-preparation worker was just $8.71 an hour in 2009 – that's only $18,000 per year.
No. 2: Dishwasher
Dishwashers earn only fractionally more than food preparers do – a mean of $8.81 an hour.
No. 3: Cashier
There are 3.3 million cashiers in the country, making it the nation's second-most-popular job. (Retail sales worker is No. 1; there are 4.2 million retail salespeople in the country). But cashiers make just $9.15 an hour.
No. 4: Host/Hostess
Restaurant hosts, the BLS says, earn $9.23 per hour, on average.
No. 5: Amusement park attendant
This one's a niche job – but even though amusement park workers aren't too common, they don't earn a lot for what they do. The nationwide average is $9.35 an hour.
No. 6: Movie theater usher
There's some value in getting to see as many movies as you want, and theater ushers do enjoy that perk. But they make just $9.43 an hour, on average.
No. 7: Farm worker
Working in agriculture can be backbreaking, and the pay isn't even very good – $9.51 an hour. United Farm Workers, an activist group, challenged Americans to try working as farm laborers; only a handful of people – including comedian Stephen Colbert – signed up.
No. 8: Home care aide
Personal care aides should be in high demand in the coming years as the U.S. population ages. But aides earn only $9.75 an hour, on average.
Also low on the earnings scale, the Huffington Post reports, are concession stand workers, cafeteria attendants and hair-salon shampooers. And MSNBC notes that waiters and waitresses make just $9.80 an hour, on average – a figure that puts them a hair above home care aides on the earnings totem pole.
Not all low-paying jobs are created equal, however. Some companies, like Kohl's, offer employee stock ownership plans to workers; others, like Starbucks and Whole Foods, make benefits and retirement-savings plans available to even their hourly employees.