Poll: Millennials tip the least
Younger generation would like to do away with service, survey says
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.