“Proposed federal minimum-wage legislation, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2014 – also known as the Harkin-Miller bill – would not only increase the federal regular minimum wage to $10.10, but for the first time in decades would also reconnect the subminimum wage for tipped workers back to the regular minimum wage by requiring the former be equal to 70 percent of the latter. This would be a strong step in the right direction; however, we present evidence that tipped workers would be better off still if we simply eliminated the tipped minimum wage, and paid these workers the full regular minimum wage” (p. 2).
Major Findings & Recommendations
Key findings from the brief include the following: • “The subminimum wage for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 since 1991. In 1996, it was decoupled from the regular minimum wage, such that the tipped wage remained at $2.13 even as the regular minimum wage was increased. At that time, the tipped minimum wage was equal to 50 percent of the regular minimum wage; today it is only equal to a record low 29.4 percent of the regular federal minimum wage of $7.25. • Customers’ tips pay the $5.12 difference between the federal tipped minimum wage and the federal regular minimum wage. Thus, customers provide a subsidy to employers of tipped workers worth more than twice the wage these employers are required to pay their tipped staff. • The restaurant industry is an intense user of both minimum-wage and tipped-wage workers, with more than 60 percent of tipped workers employed in food service. The full-service restaurant sector has grown about 86 percent from 1990 to 2013, while overall growth in the private sector was up 24 percent— illustrating why it is increasingly important to raise wages for these workers. • Tipped workers are predominantly women (66.6 percent) and disproportionately young; however, the majority are at least 25, and over one in four are at least 40 years of age” (p.3). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)