walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Kirk Johnson at the NYT May Not Understand Tipped Minimum Wage Laws


My husband read this article. He understandably concluded that people who make minimum wage were crossing the border from Idaho to Oregon because the minimum wage in Oregon was $1.85 higher than in Idaho. The article as a whole makes clear that it isn't just the $1.85: it's more hours, for example.

But even with more hours, $1.85/hour more doesn't (necessarily) justify a 20 mile commute (altho it is not clear if that is one way or round trip). However, the examples given are overwhelmingly restaurant jobs.


Idaho minimum wage for a tipped job is $3.90 and then whatever you get in tips on top of that. In theory, if you don't make enough in tips, the employer is supposed to compensate you up to the minimum. In practice, good fucking luck.

Oregon minimum wage for a tipped job is $9.10. That is a lot more money. That is $5.20 more an hour more money, and _that_ justifies a 20 mile commute.

I don't know why this was left out of Kirk Johnson's article, but I consider the article deeply misleading as a result. Washington state _used_ to have the same kind of tipped/non-tipped differing minimum wage. I know they did, because that's why when I worked at a Denny's, I refused to switch from being a hostess (at minimum wage) to being a waitress (less than minimum wage, plus tips). I knew from talking to the servers that they didn't always make even minimum wage, much less exceed. Washington changed that -- along with the rest of the West Coast, and Nevada -- and as near as I can tell, restaurant customers took it completely in stride. I think the same would likely happen in the rest of the country.

Raising the minimum wage really will help. It would also help if we could get rid of the tipped wage lower minimum wage. And that's not likely to happen if we keep forgetting to point it out.
Tags: our future economy today

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