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Center for American Progress

Ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers would benefit everyone
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Ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers would benefit everyone

As voters in Portland, Maine, and Washington, D.C., prepare to head to the ballot box to decide whether to eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers, Justin Schweitzer explains why all workers—tipped and untipped—should be paid at least the state minimum wage.

In the United States, it is currently legal to pay an entire class of workers just $2.13 per hour. In much of the country, businesses like restaurants, salons, and hotels are allowed to pay their tipped workers this starvation wage, with the responsibility of paying a living wage pawned off onto customers.

In theory, employers are legally obligated to make up the difference if an employee’s tips do not bring them up to the full minimum wage, but that’s incredibly difficult to enforce.

The subminimum wage limits millions of workers’ ability to contribute fully to the economy, especially at a time when 86% of restaurant workers nationwide report that tips have decreased since the start of the pandemic. All workers, regardless of whether they’re tipped or not, should be paid at least the state minimum wage.

The above excerpt was originally published in MarketWatch. Click here to view the full article.

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Justin Schweitzer

Former Policy Analyst


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