Although it might not capture the imagination like ice road trucking or open-seas fishing, trash collecting is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fatal injury rate for refuse and recyclable material collectors is 38.8 per 100,000 workers, making it the fifth most dangerous job in the country.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Angel Veloz, a veteran in the waste and recycling industry, warns that "In this business, if you become complacent, you're looking for death." How well do trash collectors get compensated for taking on these risks? The answer depends on a number of factors, including experience and union status. Geography also plays a role. Pay for trash collectors varies widely throughout the country, with some cities paying more than $50,000 on average and others paying less than $25,000.
With that in mind, CareerTrends, a career research site by Graphiq, used data from the BLS to find the U.S. metro areas where trash collectors had the lowest average salary in 2015 (the most recent year available).
The majority of places in the ranking are located in Southern states; Maryland and Pennsylvania are the only two states outside of the South to make the top 10. Keep in mind that one of the main reasons why salaries vary from place to place is due to differences in the cost of living. It's significantly more expensive to live in San Francisco, California, one of the top-paying cities, than Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the lowest. The BLS salary figures are not adjusted for cost of living.
Note: Ties are first broken by the number of trash collectors, then alphabetically.