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What is the least you’ve ever been paid for a job?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 20, 2008

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Photo of Mitchell Haverty

“I’ve only had one job, but I get at least $7.50 an hour. I teach piano lessons at Lawrence Piano Studio.”

Photo of Emily Johnson

“$6 an hour working at Second Chance Children’s Clothing. I’m actually currently working there. I’ve only had one job.”

Photo of Lexie Schmidt

“My dad gave me $4 for a back massage.”

Photo of Shannon Rogers

“Baby-sitting for $4 an hour. The kids were brats.”


oldvet 10 years, 2 months ago

Blue and stuck... you must be youngsters... my first paying job was working the summer between my soph and jr year in high school.. $0.85 per hour cooking on the line at a local hamburger joint... and gas was only $0.19 and I remember when the Beach Boys were really just boys!

Nikki May 10 years, 2 months ago

Mine was at a restaurant that paid $2 an hour and minimum wage was $4.25. Apparently they could do this because they had under 25 employees. So, when I got tired of that, I went and made $2.13 but at least we were guaranteed minimum with tips at that job.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 2 months ago

buck-sixty an hour...

blue73harley I gassed up there a number of times back in the early 70s...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 2 months ago

Zero dollars as an intern, yet one of the most demanding jobs ever.

salad 10 years, 2 months ago

Student teaching: you have to PAY a semesters worth of tuition to work for $0.00/hr....for four months. The most broke I've ever been; it was miserable.

preebo 10 years, 2 months ago

I actually contibute time and legal services to the Kansas Legal Services free of charge to those who can't afford to hire an attorney. I also had a clerkship four years ago with Ducks Unlimited in D.C. I received no compensation but they did ,however, pay for my room and board.

Alia Ahmed 10 years, 2 months ago

In junior high, I babysat for my school principal's five children for 35 cents an hour (in the mid-late 1960's). Boy, that was fun!!!!

adriennerm 10 years, 2 months ago

well if your talking pay to labor ratio...I painted a friend's bar, walls and ceiling for $100. I needed the money and work was slow. The bar was about 1300 square feet.

Paul R Getto 10 years, 2 months ago

50 cents/hour, and free popcorn. My first regular job was working at the little amusement park across the street from the park at 9th and Iowa. Driving the little train was the most fun.

Crossfire 10 years, 2 months ago

Puttin. up hay for 2 cents a bale... 1000 bales equaled 20 bucks a day. ...but the fried chicken dinner and cold beers at supper, well...

sunflower_sue 10 years, 2 months ago

If we are just talking "paying" jobs, then I'd have to say babysitting at church during the Sunday service when I was a teen. I got $2/hour for keeping about a dozen kids quiet and had to put up with one of the deacons sneaking away from the service so that he could come down and make annoying sexual advances towards me. Needless to say, I got fed up and quit. (Didn't stop the creep from stalking me for about 2 years!)

picturing R_I in a speedo

aginglady 10 years, 2 months ago

Crossfire, that even makes ME hurt, and I wasn't the one throwing the bales. I tell kids at checkouts/restaurants..there's life after this.

dajudge 10 years, 2 months ago

Back when I was presidentin' i only made $200,000/yr. Now I'm back with the Oil company and makin' $200million/yr.

somedude20 10 years, 2 months ago

The military was the worst for me. Now, they have to offer more money to get people to go to Iraq (and still the pay is less than what it should be) but back in the mid 90's, the pay STUNK! As an E-4, my best year was a little less than $13,000 ( I believe $12,430) but I did get to see the world and live in Hawaii without having to be shot or shoot at anyone.

HW 10 years, 2 months ago

somedude Thanks for your service. I have always wondered if that pay includes room and board, or did you pay rent out of that.

Crossfire I got a nickle a bale. That work is good for a young back. Now days I seem to always buck bales for friends for free.

My lowest hourly job was a ranch job. I got $1200/month. Not too bad, except it was an average of 90-100 hours.week.

Ceallach 10 years, 2 months ago

The old Woolworth's lunch counter, $1.75 per hour (with all the home-made lemonade you could drink :). Man oh man, did they have good cheesecake! Oh, and gas was $.025 per gallon.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 2 months ago

I haven't had many jobs, and I can't remember how much they paid; however, I'm pretty sure I'm making less now -- as an independent photographer -- than I did at any of my menial jobs. Of course, the potential for this is better (I've been at it only a year), and it's much more enjoyable, too.

Lisia 10 years, 2 months ago

Summer camp counselor. It came out to something like $.02 per hour because we were on call all night and only had one day off per week. If I'd worked with the older kids, I would have had nights off, but with 6-8 year olds and this being their first experience away from home for a week there really were no nights off.

chula6898 10 years, 2 months ago

Village Inn as a teenager in the 80's. Can't remember exactly what I was paid but it didn't seem much for the hard work I put in. I would also agree with somedude. Spent 4 years in the Navy..hard work for little pay.

james bush 10 years, 2 months ago

$0.75/hr in 1950 sacking groceries. $0.95/hr grinding lenses for single vision eye glasses in 1953 upon graduation from high school. Why not just let government hire everyone and pay us all the same wage while it controls prices for all goods and services after isolating the USA from the rest of the world?!

Mylantahawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Peace Corps in Zaire, where i taught Biology and Chemistry in the early 1980s. I earned less than a dollar per hour during 3.5 years there. It was a great job, full of adventure. I was stationed a two-day boat ride down a river, in this tiny town. We had a devaluation of the local currency of 50% my first year, whereupon I could only afford to buy caterpillars (smoked, like little Jimmy Dean pork sausages). I actually grew to like those little fellas, out of necessity!

I also got 50 cents to mow an old woman's yard (took around 3 hours) in the 1960s, while I was in grade school!

beatrice 10 years, 2 months ago


I hate it when people take my cardboard signs literally.

StrangerCreek 10 years, 2 months ago

I worked for my girlfriend's dad's catering business for $.90/Hr in Jr. High. Some friends and I went on strike one weekend for a raise to $1.00 and he fired all three of us. Gas was $0.28/Gal

Crossfire 10 years, 2 months ago

HW I'll still toss a bale or two for fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and a cold one.

Buggie7 10 years, 2 months ago

0.00 for internship and $2.00/hr for a waitress job + tips that you had to share amongst all of the other waitress's and cooks so you might have ended up with a extra $10.00 a day.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 2 months ago

At 14 I was babysitting for 50 cents/hour. I did usually get a tip...and to read at the dad's Playboy mags. I almost went blind reading those things. Why can I never resist throwing in a bad joke?~)

I can't remember what I got doing work study at college in '74 but I think it was around $1.60. I got $2.10/hr at a student job with KU when I first showed up in Lawrence. I lied about my experience trying to get that crummy gig!~) I don't think they bought it but hired someone else who quit when they found out what a pain in the rump that job was! I love that. Hey...We didn't want to hire you you still want our crummy job? "SURE!"

devobrun 10 years, 2 months ago

Unloaded a boxcar of bagged peat moss with a K-state linebacker and the "wild man" in Oklahoma one day. About 25 tons worth. At $1.25/hr each, Big John paid out about $45 total. He was 6'8" and mean, we didn't argue. Blew black peat moss out of my nose for two days. My $15 went straight into the beer needed to almost forget the incident.

lucky_guess 10 years, 2 months ago

My brother and I worked for a hog farmer one summer week when we were in junior high, shoveling pig poop out of sties and fixing barbed wire fence. At the end of the week, he gave us each $20.

I laughed extra hard during the "chicken coop" scene in Napolean Dynamite because it was so personally relevant. At least we didn't get paid in change.

oldfashiongirl 10 years, 2 months ago

Shades of the 40's!!. My first job was as cashier for a department store in 1943 when I was 16 and there was no such thing as Wage and Hour Laws then. I made $75.00 a month for 247 hours, or $.303 per hour-no overtime, benefits or nothing. It was during World War II and when there were nylon hosiery available, I could buy a pair for $1.25, stockings not panty hose. Later on in 1944 I met my wonderful Lawrence, KS Coast Guard friend and by now I was working at the A & P store for $20 a week for about .35 cents an hour. When we got in cigarettes I would give my friend the cigarettes($1.00 per carton of 10 packs) as none of my family smoked and he shared them with the rest of the crew back on his little Coast Guard ship. In 1945 I worked for a tobacco loose leaf floor and got $15.00 a week , or $.325 per hour, but I got a grand free education in accounting, bookkeeping and did tax returns for people, $5 for federal and $3 for State return as my boss was a CPA, who earned $7000. per year and he taught me all the ins and outs of accounting to the point I made that my life's work and I figure now at the ripe old age of almost 82 my net worth is in the high 6 figures. Pretty good for this old country girl who never went to college, but did a lot of travelling, was extremely conservative and whose motto was:

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." and "Waste not--want not."

Ceallach 10 years, 2 months ago

r_w, sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with teamsters. I was married to one, but he took instruction quite well.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 2 months ago

Now that I think back farther, when I was in the 4th grade, I used to help my brother throw papers. They came out twice daily and we had to roll them, band them, and lug them as it was a walking route. First shift was at 4 am and the second at 4 pm. (Yes, my mom let me get up at 3:30 on school days!) At the end of the week, my brother would pay me $5. I thought I was raking in the dough and I'm sure he is still laughing.

Crossfire, my hubby started bucking bales at 4 cents in high school. Then, he ran his own crew of 3 (still in hs) and paid them 6 cents/bale (to start with). If they lasted more than 2 days, he paid them 10 cents. He says that few lasted that long! He paid himself 20 cents...but it was his truck. All I can say is, I wish my high school would have had some nice, hunky farm boys to look at! ;)

pomegranate 10 years, 2 months ago

My parents became owners of a Winchell's Donut House the spring after I turned 16. My Dad paid me $1.00 an hour. I would have done it for nothing. I got my friends working there, and we had such fun. I was remeniscing with my brother the other day, and I can't believe that next year will be 50 years!!! I remember it all like it was yesterday, but I can't remember yesterday. Such a sorry state to be in. That was 1959. In the four years or so before that, I babysat for anywhere from 35 cents to 50 cents an hour. And New Year's Eve was great--usually at least double, and maybe triple that.

Stephen Prue 10 years, 2 months ago

Three nights a week $5 to sweep up at a casket building shop while in high school. The work was dead but people were dying to get into it.

aginglady 10 years, 2 months ago

I used to babysit when I was young. The dad was always drunk when he drove me home. One night, it was after 2 am when they got home (a usual thing). This particular night he felt too drunk to drive so me told me to drive. I was 13. I told him I didn't know how, so he took me out all over town to teach me to drive, while he was plastered. I almost hit a median sign at one point, but shortly there after I was doing great. He also suggested we go neck, I told him, No I didn't think so LOL. He wasn't that way in real life, he was just drunk. Boy was his wife ticked when he brought me back to sit the next day for the Sunday football game. Of course I was going to take him up on teaching me to drive, my family wasn't doing it!

Anyone got any input for my weblog? Your help would be appreciated.

Drew_Carey 10 years, 2 months ago

The Price is Right. The contestant's get all the goodies, I get a lousy $10g for a half hour on air. And no perks on the side either. I thought those babes would be all over me.

CheyenneWay 10 years, 2 months ago

Lowest Paying Job I Ever Took. by CheyenneWay

Picking purple hull peas and butterbeans. $0.50/bucket

I bought a pack of smokes at the end of the week!

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