Raising the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Courtesy of ROC United

Courtesy of ROC United

I conducted research at Lake Research on behalf of One Fair Wage, a campaign organized by ROC United to pass legislation in cities and states across the country to require the restaurant industry to pay all its employees at least the regular minimum wage.

Survey findings were released in early 2015, as the New York Wage Board headed into the final days of deliberation on the future of New York’s tipped minimum wage, which had remained $5 an hour for years. The survey found: 

  • Before hearing any messaging, three-fourths of likely 2016 voters (75%) favor the proposal to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers until it is at the same level as the regular minimum wage, with support growing to 79% after respondents were presented with messaging.
  • Support spans partisan groups with 87% of Democrats, 88% of Independents, and 52% of Republicans support eliminating the tipped minimum wage, with 68% of all respondents ‘strongly favoring’ the proposal to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers to the full minimum wage.
  • Every demographic and political group supports raising the minimum wage for tipped workers. Support for the proposal is especially strong among Democrats, Independents, African Americans, and voters in New York City. But even Upstate, voters favor increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers by a more than 3 to 1 margin.
  • Arguments against raising the tipped minimum wage fell flat as voters found all opposition arguments were not convincing reasons to oppose raising the tipped minimum wage. For example, although 21% of voters found the statement “raising the minimum wage for tipped workers will cost consumers” ‘very convincing,’ a majority (53%) found this argument not convincing. 

Following the research, in February 2015 New York's Hospitality Wage Board approved a minimum wage hike for waiters, bartenders and other tipped workers in New York.

You can find a memo on the findings here

Some press coverage of the research: