Many of us are feeling the impacts of the economic downturn and rising inflation rates. But as the cost of living continues to rise as well, minimum wage workers fear that they will no longer be able to afford the bare essentials. And with 125 million or 61% of Americans already living paycheck to paycheck, there is cause for concern. However, some positions have been notoriously underpaid for decades, hardly providing a living wage. Here are 10 low paying jobs that desperately need a salary increase to keep up with the rising inflation.
10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase
Based on the reported earnings to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics from 2021, the following list includes low paying jobs in need of a salary increase. Keep in mind that this list doesn’t look at each position, but rather groups several low paying positions by industry. If you would like to see the breakdown by each job, you can view the full report here.
1. Fast Food Workers
The fast-food industry has been one of the hardest hit by labor shortages. But after learning how much they earn, it leaves little doubt as to why.
Fast-food service remains among the lowest-paying industries. Most positions are below the poverty threshold to support a 4-person household. Cooks are the lowest earners with an annual average salary of $25,490. Counter Workers come next at $26,060, and dining room staff earns slightly more with $27,690 per year.
2. Restaurant Staff
The restaurant industry in general has been struggling since the pandemic began. Although more people have returned to eating in restaurants, some never recovered and were forced to close their doors.
When the restaurant isn’t earning much money, then it can’t afford to pay its staff. Unfortunately, employees who relied on tips were not even earning minimum wage at times. When you see how much restaurant positions take home before taxes, some salaries are barely enough to live on, let alone build savings.
- Host/Hostess $26,000
- Dishwashers $27,350
- Servers $27,520
- Bussers and Barbacks $27,690
- Food Prep and Service $28,810
- Bartenders $30,340
3. Entertainment and Recreation Attendants
People need entertainment as an outlet from the demands of their job and the stresses of daily life. Attending events, going to amusement parks, and catching a movie can help you slow down and enjoy life.
However, those who provide these services may be experiencing their own financial stresses. This category includes different types of positions from ticket-takers to ushers and attendants. Any way you look at it though, they only earn an average annual salary between $26,110 and $27,170, depending on the position.
Any business that sells products or services will need cashiers to handle the transactions. While it is an entry-level position, they plan an important role in the corporate structure. But a position as a cashier usually means working long hours for little compensation. Most companies hire people for an average salary of $26,770 a year.
5. Child Care Workers
You would think that the people we trust to care for our children would be higher up the pay scale. Sadly, child care positions are low paying jobs in need of a salary increase. Child care workers have a very busy and demanding job. Furthermore, the well-being of many children directly depends on them. However, they only earn an average salary of $27,680.
6. Hospitality Staff
When you are traveling, it is easy to overlook how important each position within the hotel is. From check-in and food service to special requests, hospitality staff make it their job to take care of you when you’re away from home.
Unfortunately, they don’t earn much for their efforts. A desk clerk earns about $28,040, while maids and housekeeping cleaners make a little more at$29,580. Baggage carriers and porters can expect about $30,040 per year.
7. Healthcare Aides
Medical professionals have been tried and tested over the last few years. The strenuous conditions have caused many people to retire or leave the field. The resulting staffing shortages have made healthcare all the more difficult.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are trying to promote and train doctors, nurses, and new medical staff to meet the demand. Many employers are even offering more financial incentives to fill these positions.
But, there has been little financial gain for healthcare aides who have an important function in day-to-day care. Orderlies take home about $33,440 while personal care and home health and personal care aides earn slightly less at $29,260 a year.
8. Agricultural Workers
Farmers across the country are responsible for growing the food that feeds our country. However, agricultural workers have a very thankless job. It includes long hours, hard work, and minimal pay. Although agricultural workers can earn more depending on their skills and training, the average agricultural worker brings home about $32,450 a year.
9. Security Guards
Security guards play an important role in assisting the local police. They often provide manpower to patrol buildings, monitor commercial areas, and investigate suspicious activity. Many even carry a weapon. However, they are not well compensated for the level of danger the job entails. A security guard earns an average salary of $35,830 per year.
In other cultures, teachers hold revered positions. But, that isn’t the case in the U.S.
It’s no secret that teachers don’t get into it for the money. A preschool teacher is the lowest paid position requiring a degree. They earn an annual salary of $36,460 while other teachers earn anywhere from $10-$20k more. But even this salary bump is very low when you consider how important they are in shaping young minds.
While gaining new skills, certifications, or degrees can help you increase your income, it doesn’t change the fact that some jobs are severely underpaid. Having held many of these position on this list over the years, I understand why people get burnt out working long hours for little pay. However, the nation could be facing a serious labor crisis if people decide they are burnt out and no longer willing to perform these jobs at the same pay level.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.