13 Jobs Where Hard Work Can No Longer Buy You the American Dream

13 Jobs Where Hard Work Can No Longer Buy You the American Dream

Although the rich may be getting richer, the majority of Americans have witnessed stagnate economic prospects in recent years. In fact, income inequality in the U.S. is the highest its been since 1928.

This means that those with low-paying jobs will have a more difficult time climbing up the economic ladder. A recent paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, in recent years, the growth rate for economic mobility between generations has also slowed, meaning that your family income won't be much higher than your parents'.

In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1.57 million Americans earned the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and most of these jobs offer no health care or retirement plans.

This is not a good sign for the U.S. economic system — and most Americans know this, as illustrated in the chart below from the Pew Research Center:

Below is a list of low-paying jobs that hover right around minimum wage and offer little upward mobility. The data is compiled by the latest BLS' list of more than 200 occupations, sorted by annual wage.

1. Food preparers and servers

Annual mean wage: $18,720

Employment: 2,943,810

States with the highest employment level of food preparers and servers: Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio

2. Cooks in fast food restaurants

Annual mean wage: $18,780

Employment: 504,740

States with the highest employment level of cooks: California, Florida, Illinois, Florida and Georgia

3. Farmworkers

Annual mean wage: $19,990

Employment: 253,670

States with the highest employment level of farmworkers: California, Florida, Arizona, Washington and Oregon

4. Amusement and recreation attendants

Annual mean wage: $20,020

Employment: 256,400

States with the highest employment level of amusement and recreation attendants: California, Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania

5. Lobby attendants

Annual mean wage: $20,320

Employment: 106,860

States with the highest employment level of lobby attendants: California, Illinois, Texas, New York and Florida

6. Lifeguards

Annual mean wage: $20,720

Employment: 125,770

States with the highest employment level of lifeguards: California, Texas, New York, Ohio and Florida

7. Childcare workers

Annual mean wage: $21,310

Employment: 624,520

States with the highest employment level of childcare workers: New York, Texas, California, Florida and Pennsylvania

8. Nail technicians

Annual mean wage: $21,440

Employment: 62,330

States with the highest employment level of nail technicians: California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois

9. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

Annual mean wage: $21,540

Employment: 198,750

States with the highest employment level of laundry and dry-cleaning workers: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois

10. Parking lot attendants

Annual mean wage: $21,540

Employment: 126,520

States with the highest employment level of parking lot attendants: California, Florida, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania

11. Motion picture projectionists

Annual mean wage: $21,600

Employment: 8,030

States with the highest employment level of motion picture projectionists: California, Florida, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania

12. Housekeepers and cleaners

tAnnual mean wage: $21,820

Employment: 894,920

States with the highest employment level of housekeepers and cleaners: California, Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania

13. Gaming dealers

Annual mean wage: $21,600

Employment: 8,030

States with the highest employment level of gaming dealers: Nevada, California, Washington, New Jersey and Pennsylvania