When I was a young aviator with a crazy dream of flying for a living I started with a small regional airline at $12 per hour. Yes you did read that right. That worked out to be about $12000 per year income. I remember just barely tweaking out a living and being able to keep food on the table. The table was rented by the way since I owned no furniture except for my bed which my parents gave me. Still that seemed like normal pay in the industry, no one liked it but that is what you had to put up with if you wanted to move on to the major airlines. Later on I upgraded to Captain and started making $22 an hour and I thought I was really something. At that time it was not uncommon to fly 8 to 10 legs in a day and have no time to eat and very little rest.
Recently talking to a friend of mine that started with a regional airline in 2000, he started at $20 per hour as a first officer. Upgrade was about three years and Captain pay jumped to $55 per hour.
There is about 15 years worth of difference in the two scenarios, and perhaps today’s examples are quite different. But I would have to imagine that the same basic theory exists, regional pilots work very hard for very little money. When you factor in your experience and time to get to that level of aviation its kind of said to see how small the paychecks really are.