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Tipping Standards, from Sea to Shining Sea

Photo credit: Getty

Headed to Austin for SXSW? Great! Consider putting an extra single, or two, or maybe even five on the table when you’re done demolishing those breakfast tacos. 

A recent New York Times article throws into sharp relief the difference in base wages among various states. Although the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, tipped employees—restaurant workers and bartenders, and anyone anyone who makes more than $30 per month in gratuities—are subject to a different minimum wage. Since 1995 that lower rate has been stuck, thanks to pressure from the restaurant industry, at $2.13 per hour in places including Texas. (With inflation, today that rate is worth about $1.24 per hour.)

Yikes. “If tips are too small to reach the minimum wage,” reports the Times, “then the restaurant is required to top off the waiter’s pay” to reach the federally mandated $7.25 per hour. Forgive us for being cynics, but with all the tip-related lawsuits out there, we wonder whether a boss in a state that uses the $2.13 rate is really “topping off” the waiter’s pay. 

Only four states in the nation offer more than the federal wage baselines for their waiters: California, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. (The rates vary in some states depending on the size of the business). Washington State leads the pack, offering a dreamy-by-comparison $9.32 hourly wage. 

But if you’re headed to New Jersey to watch the Super Bowl, know that the folks working the local eateries are making $2.13 hourly baseline pay—same as their counterparts in New Mexico and 17 other states.

Got a trip coming up? Check this site to see how much that waiter or bartender is making as a bottom line. 

Will this affect the way you tip? Take to the social media and let us know!

[via The New York Times]

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