Poll: Mil­len­ni­als tip the least

Younger gen­er­a­tion would like to do away with ser­vice, sur­vey says

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Tim Car­man

WASH­ING­TON — Mil­len­ni­als, the gen­er­a­tion that loves to dine out, is also the gen­er­a­tion that doesn’t like to tip servers as much as older din­ers do. Ac­cord­ing to a new YouGov poll, 63% of mil­len­ni­als al­ways tip servers at full-ser­vice restau­rants, com­pared with 89% of baby boomers and 81% of Gen Xers.

In restau­rants across the land, you can al­most hear the cry: It’s not OK, mil­len­ni­als.

Then again, mil­len­ni­als ap­pear to feel worse than other gen­er­a­tions about their tip­ping habits. When YouGov asked, “How fre­quently, if at all, do you worry about im­prop­erly tip­ping some­one for a ser­vice pro­vided?” 55% of mil­len­ni­als said they of­ten or oc­ca­sion­ally fret about it. By con­trast, 38% of Gen Xers and 29% of boomers felt the same way.

In the United States, wait­ers and wait­resses in 43 states and the District of Columbia rely on diner tips to cover a sub­stan­tial part of their in­come. In th­ese ju­ris­dic­tions, em­ploy­ers can pay servers as little as $2.13 an hour as long as tips cover the re­main­der of the min­i­mum wage. If tips fall short of the mark, the busi­ness owner is re­quired to cover the dif­fer­ence, though stud­ies have in­di­cated em­ployer wage theft is com­mon among the low­in­come work­ers who serve your food.

The YouGov poll jibes with a 2018 sur­vey that painted mil­len­ni­als as “the worst tip­pers in the U.S.”

Among the tid­bits in that Cred­it­Cards.com poll: 10% of mil­len­ni­als rou­tinely stiff their servers. But the ear­lier sur­vey also of­fered some­thing of an ex­pla­na­tion for the younger gen­er­a­tion’s be­hav­ior: More than a quar­ter of mil­len­ni­als would like to do away with the tip­ping sys­tem al­to­gether and just have the ac­tual cost of din­ing re­flected in the meal prices.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Restau­rant Op­por­tu­ni­ties Cen­ter United have tried to elim­i­nate the tipped min­i­mum wage in var­i­ous cities around the coun­try, in­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton.

Last year, District vot­ers ap­proved Ini­tia­tive 77, which would have raised the min­i­mum wage for servers, bar­tenders and other work­ers who rely on tips. But four months af­ter the ref­er­en­dum passed, the D.C. Coun­cil over­turned it, fol­low­ing a lob­by­ing push from the restau­rant in­dus­try, which said the higher la­bor costs would crush the city’s din­ing scene.

The sur­vey “is an­other val­i­da­tion why mil­lions of tipped work­ers and their fam­i­lies in the food ser­vice in­dus­try live in poverty and on food stamps,” said An­thony Ad­vin­cula, spokesman for ROC United, in a state­ment. “Be­cause the in­come of tipped work­ers is mainly de­pen­dent on the whims of their cus­tomers, their strug­gles to make ends meet can be a daily oc­cur­rence. There’s one clear so­lu­tion: raise the wages of all tipped work­ers to a full min­i­mum, plus tips on top.”

In the 50-plus years since the Fair La­bor Stan­dards Act es­tab­lished a sub-min­i­mum wage for tipped work­ers, the prac­tice of tip­ping has been con­tro­ver­sial. Din­ers view tip­ping as a cour­tesy based on the qual­ity of the ser­vice pro­vided. Servers, par­tic­u­larly those at higher-end restau­rants, view tips as a major source of their in­come.

But oth­ers in the restau­rant in­dus­try have ar­gued that elim­i­nat­ing tips hurts servers. Some restau­rant own­ers have said they wouldn’t mind elim­i­nat­ing tips, but only if the pol­icy were adopted ev­ery­where. Oth­er­wise, they ar­gue, servers will just quit and work in a nearby ju­ris­dic­tion where tip­ping re­mains the norm.

The YouGov poll, how­ever, would ap­pear to in­di­cate that tip­ping is on the outs with younger din­ers. Across the board, no mat­ter what ser­vice was pro­vided, mil­len­ni­als tipped less fre­quently than older gen­er­a­tions. Forty-six per­cent of mil­len­ni­als al­ways tipped de­liv­ery food driv­ers, com­pared with 56% of Gen Xers and 57% of boomers. Eigh­teen per­cent of mil­len­ni­als al­ways tipped counter-ser­vice work­ers, com­pared with 19% of Gen Xers and 26% of boomers.

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