WASHINGTON, D.C. – On 2/13, “Tipped Minimum Wage Day of Action,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today renewed his push to support workers and promote economic opportunity for all Americans by raising the tipped minimum wage—which stands at just $2.13 an hour—for the first time in more than 20 years. To support “Tipped Minimum Wage Day of Action,” Brown introduced a Senate Resolution expressing support for boosting the tipped federal minimum wage, which would help lift hundreds of thousands of workers out of poverty.
“There are millions of Americans getting by on a tipped wage – but even with tips, these workers are often cash-strapped,” said Brown. “The base of $2.13 an hour for tipped workers must be raised so every hardworking American has a shot at earning a fair wage. Raising the wage for tipped workers is about giving individuals and families the financial security to put gas in the car, pay rent, and put food on the table. We must get to work on boosting wages for all those who put in their time and deserve a living wage.”
When the tipped minimum wage was first established, it was 50 percent of the regular minimum wage, and at its peak, 60 percent during the 1980s. Today, however, it stands at a mere 29 percent of the regular minimum wage. Last Congress, Brown was a cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would gradually raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage. Brown’s legislation would have also increased the regular minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25, and indexed it to inflation. That means that under Brown’s legislation, tipped workers would see their minimum wage increase to $7.10 or higher depending on inflation.
Brown’s resolution to raise the federal tipped minimum wage currently has six co-sponsors: U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), there are approximately 3.3 million tipped workers in the United States. Women account for 67 percent of all tipped employees, and 25 percent of tipped workers are parents working to support their families on meager wages. And restaurant workers, who – according to Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United – account for 60 percent of all tipped workers, have a poverty rate that is three times that of the rest of the American workforce.
Twenty-nine states currently have a tipped minimum wage that is higher than the federal rate of $2.13, including seven where the tipped minimum wage and regular minimum wage are equal. If there is only one minimum wage, the restaurant industry projects employment growth of over 10% in the next ten years, and the poverty rate for employees of color is more than 10% lower than in states with a tipped minimum wage of $2.13.