Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Hasn’t Changed in More Than 20 Years
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
While making a living on $7.25 an hour is not easy, it’s even tougher when the federal minimum wage for waiters and waitresses is only $2.13—a rate that hasn’t changed since 1991.
The justification for the lower rate is that these restaurant workers earn tips that will make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25, the minimum rate for most hourly employees. When waiters and waitresses don’t make enough in tips, restaurants are supposed to cover the gap.
But according to a study by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, that often doesn’t happen, as some managers and owners prefer to take advantage of those earning below minimum wages. This situation more often affects women than men, due to the fact that females make up 66% of restaurant workers earning tips. Because of inflation, $2.13 is worth 40% less in real terms than it was when the rate was established 21 years ago.
About half of all Americans eat out at a restaurant at least once a week.