Workers who rely on tips are starting to see the tip jar as half empty. In a BizSense survey, 70% of workers in a tip-dependent industries said that their compensation has gotten noticeably worse this summer compared to previous months.
We surveyed 25 workers, including waiters, waitresses, hair dressers, shoe cleaners, bus boys, delivery boys and sky caps.
Each was asked to rate the tips they have received first over the past month, then over the past year. The rating scale is a simple 1-10, where 1 is the worst, 10 is the best, and 5 is average.
The average rating given by the employees for their tips over the past year was 5.6. The average rating given by these same employees for tips over the past month was 4.5. So the rating given by employees for their tips dropped 1.1 points in the past month.
Of the 25 people surveyed, only three felt that their tips over the past year have been below average. However, 13 felt that their tips have suffered in the last month.
The sky caps at the airport said they’ve never seen it so slow. In part, they blame the airlines for making flying miserable and charging $25 to check a bag, and said that when customers arrive at the curb and have to pay that fee, they’re less willing to tip.
However in other industries, smaller tips might not mean tip-givers are getting any stingier. They could just be ordering cheaper food or services. One hairdresser said that her regular customers are still leaving nice tips, but they’re coming in less frequently and getting less fancy treatments (skipping the facials…).
At restaurants, if patrons order cheaper items, then even a generous 20% tip will leave the waiter with less at the end of the night.
Less than 20% of respondents said that their tips have been about the same. None of the employees said their tips have gotten better this summer.
“I think the high gas prices are definitely affecting the tips people leave us. The economy is struggling; unfortunately, we’re going to have to pay for it,” said Greg Edwards, a waiter at Red Robin.
Many of those surveyed echoed Edwards. Fifteen said that the weak economy was at least partially to blame for the recent trend of lesser tips.
But what can employees do to make up for dwindling tips?
Some have taken second jobs. One employee we talked to said that she is now baby-sitting during the day and waitressing at night.
But most seem to just suck it up and smile.
“It’s not easy,” said Pat Harding, a waiter at Cheeburger Cheeburger, “but my best advice is just to stay positive and be as friendly as possible, because there still are good tippers out there.”
By occupation, the number employed and their median hourly wage, including tips:
* Waiters and waitresses: 2.4 million; $7.62.
* Bartenders: 498,090; $8.22.
* Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists: 343,320; $10.68.
* Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 165,590; $10.01.
* Manicurists and pedicurists: 52,730; $9.60.
* Barbers: 12,110; $11.31.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.