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The lowest paying occupation in May 2004 was fast food cooks, who earned $7.33 per hour, on average.
The next three lowest paying occupations—combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers; and dishwashers—were also related to food preparation and serving.
Seven of the ten occupations with average wages of $8.00 per hour or less were related to food preparation and serving. Other, not food related, occupations with low wages were shampooers; gaming dealers; and amusement and recreation attendants.
The major occupational group with the lowest average wages in May 2004 was food preparation and serving related occupations. Over 65 percent of workers employed in food preparation and serving related occupations earned less than $8.50 per hour.
These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. Wages for the OES survey are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive of premium pay. Base rate, cost-of-living allowances, guaranteed pay, hazardous-duty pay, commissions, production bonuses, tips, and on-call pay are included. More estimates of occupational employment and wages of wage and salary workers in nonfarm industries are published in Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2004 (PDF) (TXT), news release USDL 05-877.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Lowest paying occupations in May 2004 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2005/may/wk5/art02.htm (visited March 24, 2023).