I'm retired now, and early one, with S.S. ONLY, after officially entered the workforce in 1970,... think that's when I first had an S.S.# and a job with deductions. Prior to that, jus weekend and summer stuff, bailing hay, pickin' pickles, babysitting, farm labor, mechanic stuff, and even drilling water wells.
But those first 15yrs after '70, were the best, even for an unskilled high-school grad. Mostly industrial labor, some skilled mechanics, even arts & crafts paid well during those years, although some jobs were jus becoming regulated with certifications and such. Retired folks on S.S. then, were jus gettin' by.
By about the early/mid-80's, much of industry was shuttin' down or gone, unable to meet new standards of air & water requirements. Claims of costly labor and such, saw many more jobs gone in following decades. Those remaining, were paying more and more poorly. Some, like photography and even tax prep were sorta still available for an independent venturous soul, but labor rates were becoming severely depressed. Skilled and tech jobs kept my head above water mostly.
The last !5yrs of my working career, from about 1999 or so, were the WORST!!! Independent labor had become too regulated to continue for most, forcing many to work for companies with further depressed wages. Service jobs charges $50-$100hr labor costs, yet only paid their labor worker a minimal,.... citing expenses and overhead costs, ugh! Eight of those last 15 were with a big name corp,... and I was GROSSLY underpaid till I left, even for an older experienced and skilled single guy as myself. Finished with junk summer labor jobs, and seasonal tax prep,... easy office work for an old man!!!
Most of those last years paid worse than what I now receive on Social Security Retirement, that I paid for all those years,.... like many retired today, I get by. I do keep busy fixin' bikes and whatever folks I know need done, doin' whatever I can,.... fixin' AC's, furnaces, cars, plumbin', gardening, mowing or whatever. No need to charge for my labor anymore,.... I still get by.
If you began working after the mid-80's or so, as a wage earner.... your most probably being grossly underpaid and don't even know it! Regardless of education, acquired skills, knowledge or experience. It's become the "norm" today for everybody. I'm glad it's over for me,... but I feel badly for my kids and my grandkids.