Skip to main content

Main Area


Worst jobs in America

  • Worst jobs in America

    American workers are reporting higher overall job satisfaction in 2019, with 85% of respondents to a quarterly poll by CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey reported in July. Those numbers are virtually unchanged from first-quarter reporting and expected to remain throughout the rest of the year. They also represent a continued uptick in job satisfaction since the decade prior, which was wrought by the Great Recession of 2008 and punctuated with massive layoffs lasting into the 2010s. 

    Work satisfaction is typically based on a combination of multiple factors, including pay and benefits, work environment, public and personal perceptions of the work, work-life balance, and interpersonal relationships with colleagues. With wage growth largely flat when adjusted for inflation, many Americans feel like they are underappreciated at work. On top of that, there are plenty of jobs that are just plain unattractive to the average American worker.

    The more tedious and dangerous the job is and the less a person is paid to do it, the more miserable the job is likely to make him or her. To help make this point clear, Stacker has looked at data from PayScale and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine the 50 worst jobs in the United States. For this list, we examined 500 occupations to calculate their “misery score.”

    Stacker developed the “misery score” using a combination of four factors: meaning, median income, job satisfaction, and projected job growth. PayScale defines meaning as jobs most people feel make the world a better place; the median income comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 data; “job satisfaction” is based on PayScale’s survey; and projected job growth by 2028 statistics from the BLS. All four factors are weighed equally for the final "misery" index.

    Some people feel that working in a miserable job is a part of life, while others do not have the luxury of choosing the job they want. Despite the rationale, many Americans are finding themselves doing less than they would like. With Americans 55 and older driving much of the job growth, there is a sense that many senior citizens are struggling to make ends meet.

    Read on to learn whether your job made the list of the 50 worst jobs in America.

    You may also like: States with the fastest-growing rent

  • #50. Construction laborers

    - 'Job misery' index: 79.9
    - Median pay: $33,100
    - 'High meaning' score: 46%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 51%

    Construction laborers perform the physical labor at construction sites. Widely considered a dangerous job, it can subject workers to falls from great heights, trench and scaffolding collapses, electric shock, equipment accidents, repetitive motion injuries, and personally inflicted injuries from failure to properly use protective equipment.

  • #49. Railroad conductors and yardmasters

    - 'Job misery' index: 80
    - Median pay: $50,100
    - 'High meaning' score: 39%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 48%

    Railroad conductors are responsible for activities aboard a passenger or commercial train, while yardmasters manage the rail yards. Long hours and little opportunity to sit can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction for some, and consistent burnout. PayScale estimates that only 10% of railroad conductors and yardmasters are still in the industry after 20 years.

  • #48. Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic

    - 'Job misery' index: 80.2
    - Median pay: $36,500
    - 'High meaning' score: 44%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 50%

    Computer-controlled machine tool operator is a catch-all term for anyone who uses a robot or other computer-driven device to forge or shape plastic or metal. This can include Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Lathe operators, CNC machinists, CNC mill operators, and brake press operators. Low wages, a high risk of accidents, and continuing repetitive movements can make this job unpleasant for some who do it.

  • #47. Bartenders

    - 'Job misery' index: 80.4
    - Median pay: $28,600
    - 'High meaning' score: 32%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 61%

    Pouring glasses of wine and making martinis may not be for everyone, but most bartenders tend to feel satisfied in their jobs—perhaps in part because of their interactions with customers. With an hourly rate of just $7.85, bartenders depend on tips to make a decent living.

  • #46. Welding, soldering, and brazing machine setters, operators, and tenders

    - 'Job misery' index: 80.4
    - Median pay: $33,200
    - 'High meaning' score: 26%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 63%

    Automation has played a role in employment statistics for this profession. One interesting note has been in the increasing number of women seeking this kind of employment in an otherwise male-dominated industry. There was a deficit in skilled trade workers a decade ago, which led to efforts to recruit more women.

  • #45. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

    - 'Job misery' index: 80.4
    - Median pay: $24,700
    - 'High meaning' score: 42%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 56%

    Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks are typically the first line of contact guests usually come in contact with. These clerks receive and transmit messages, make and confirm reservations, assign room keys, present room and service rental statements, and accept payment. As they are guests’ immediate point of contact, hotel clerks may be subject to verbal or physical abuse from dissatisfied guests. Clerks also must work long hours while standing.

  • #44. Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics

    - 'Job misery' index: 80.4
    - Median pay: $30,500
    - 'High meaning' score: 32%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 60%

    Outdoor power equipment mechanics service small engines for power lawn motors, chain saws, recreational and sporting equipment, and other small gasoline-powered devices. Since these mechanics handle and disassemble power tools, there is a danger of being cut or maimed. In addition, there is a risk of inhaling gasoline fumes, danger from fire, or being burned by melted plastic or hot metal.

  • #43. Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders

    - 'Job misery' index: 80.5
    - Median pay: $35,500
    - 'High meaning' score: 42%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 51%

    The workers operate machines that paint ceramics, metal, or plastic products. Growth in these jobs is expected to be sluggish by 2020 compared with most other occupations in the United states. This is partly because the industry is becoming more automated.

  • #42. Home appliance repairers

    - 'Job misery' index: 81.1
    - Median pay: $38,000
    - 'High meaning' score: 44%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 47%

    Home appliance repairers have seen job prospects dwindle as more people turn to the internet for help fixing things around the house. Those working in electronics and appliance stores stand the best chance of staying employed.

  • #41. Foundry mold and coremakers

    - 'Job misery' index: 81.2
    - Median pay: $37,600
    - 'High meaning' score: 41%
    - 'High satisfaction' score: 49%

    Foundry mold and coremakers create forms used to make metal castings. This job has terrible odds of employment growth in the United States, as manufacturers move operations out of the country, where they can pay workers less.

Trending Now