As public hearings on whether to increase the tipped minimum wage get underway before the state's Wage Board, advocacy group CSS, or Community Service Society, drops a report with some scary data. The main takeaway is this:
In New York City and statewide, tipped workers are more than twice as likely to live in poverty compared to non-tipped workers, and rely more on public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid, representing a shift in labor costs on to the public....Thirty percent of tipped workers in the state earn less than $8.88 an hour, which for a full-time, year round worker translates to just $18,470 dollars annually, not enough to keep a family of three out of poverty.
The debate around tipping isn't new, but is heating up lately since New York State is considering whether to do away with the "tip credit," which allows restaurants to pay their employees less than the minimum wage on the theory that the remainder of the wage will be earned from tips. Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, recently voiced his support for keeping the tip credit in an op-ed in the Post, arguing that doing away with it would force some servers to make less money and several restaurants to shutter. Others, like Dirt Candy owner Amanda Cohen have said that tipping is simply no way to properly compensate waiters doing their job.