10 Worst-Paid Jobs in America

Last Updated Jul 25, 2011 1:29 PM EDT

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cashiers or food service workers. There are millions of jobs in these professions, but their average wages are paltry, amounting to less than half the pay of the average American worker, according to just-released data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the highest-paid jobs in the country are concentrated in the medical field (though there are dozens of jobs that pay six figure incomes in a wide array of professions), America's lowest-paid positions are predominantly in retail and food service.

The average American earns $44,410 annually, according to the latest BLS ranking of some 800 positions. Most of these jobs, on the other hand, pay less than $20,000 annually.

What are the nation's worst-paying jobs, according to a MoneyWatch analysis of this government data?

1. Fast food cooks.........................................$18,540

2. Food preparation and serving.....................$18,610

3. Dishwashers...............................................$18,680

4. Shampooers................................................$19,140

5. Cafeteria/coffee shop counter attendant....$19,280

6. Bartender's helper........................................$19,320

7. Restaurant hostess......................................$19,600

8. Amusement/recreation attendant................$19,750

9. Cashiers......................................................$19,810

10. Ushers/ticket-takers................................$20,290

The moral of this story? Give a waiter a break -- and a big tip.

To you, adding a dollar or two to your tip isn't going to have a noticeable impact on your bill. But to that waiter, waitress, hostess, valet or usher, a big tip can vastly impact their hourly wage.
More on MoneyWatch
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27 Six-Figure Jobs that Don't Require an MD
Grads: 5 Secrets to Getting a Job
How to Become a Millionaire

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