People working in the service industry such as restaurant workers typically rely on tips for a majority of their income. To know how much tips waiters and bartenders get, here is the big picture.
In the US in the year 2015, according to the federal regulation, the minimum average hourly wage for waiters and bartenders is $2.13 per hour before tip income salary information. In the individual states, the minimum wage may rise above the federal level, and this is justified. In fact, atleast 44 states have done this in some capacity. Thus, there are variations across the country in term of hourly pre-tip wages. It varies from a minimum of $2.13 per hour in states such as Georgia and Tennessee to $9.47 per hour in the state of Washington.
The minimum wage for most occupations is $7.25 based on the federal regulation, but waiters and bartenders are part of a special category of wage-earners known as tipped employees. Tipped employees are defined as those who regularly receive at least $30 in tip income per month, as stated in the Fair Labor sStandard Act. It is this additional and regular income that provides the basis for reduced federal minimum wage standards for this category of workers.
Washington has the first-highest minimum average hourly wage for tipped employees at a rate of $9.47 per hour, followed by Oregon at $9.25. California, the most-populous state in the country, has a $9 minimum. Whereas most waiters and bartenders in Alaska, Montana and Nevada earn more than $8 per hour, not including tips. Texas, the second-most populous state in the country, requires a minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped employees, matching the federal minimum. However, Texas has a secondary standard that requires tipped employees to be paid at least $7.25 per hour when both wages and tips are combined. When combined pay does not reach at least $7.25 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.
More about how much tips received by waiters and bartenders, Payscale, an online salary-information company, has recently published a report with survey data from 15,000 food-service workers. According to Payscale’s data, bartenders, waitresses, and waiters were tipped significantly more than chefs and cooks (it is important to note that chefs and cooks usually get higher base pay). Where tips amounted to 0 to 10 percent of chefs’ and cooks’ hourly incomes, for bartenders, waiters, and waitresses that number could be as high as 70 percent. For instance, Payscale’s top median tip earners were bartenders in San Francisco, who reported earning a median of $15.50 in tips per hour. For bartenders, the worst place to be is New York, where the median amount earned from tips per hour is $7.10. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, bartenders make on average $18,900, or $9.09 an hour including tips.
Waiters and waitresses in Miami, Boston, and San Francisco reported the highest median tips per hour at around $13. The lowest median tips per hour for waiters and waitresses—around $7—were in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Seattle. This is consistent with the BLS’s finding that tips are generally higher in metropolitan areas and regions with resorts.
PayScale also found that there’s a gender gap for tipping, with men being tipped less than women. In PayScale’s sample, women earned $1 more per hour in tips, but men were paid $1 more in base pay—bringing both to about $13 for median pay per hour. That’s still below the national median for the hourly wage for all occupations, which is $16.87, but it’s $4 more than the BLS median for waiters and waitresses. So either the workers surveyed were in the 90th percentile of waiters and waitresses, or (more likely) we’re getting a better picture of what they really earn. In the meantime, the fairness of tipped workers’ wages remains as hotly debated as how much to tip.