Happy Valentine’s Day

We’d like to start off by saying Happy Valentine’s day, from all of us at PolicyMap. If you had forgotten, and you need to go make some last-minute plans, we’ll excuse you while you try to schedule an emergency flower delivery. Or, if you’d prefer to revel in the glory of your bachelorhood/bachelorettehood, we wrote a blog a while back about how “living the single life” is increasingly become the status quo. But, if you are dining out tonight with that special someone, let us offer some date night tips; don’t forget to tip (your wait staff)! There is nothing more romantic than showing some love for your restaurant servers (trust us, you’ll impress your date with your generosity).

But if we can, we’d like to address an important point about the fact that food industry employees are notoriously underpaid. While the federal minimum wage rate is currently set at $7.25 per hour (some states are set higher or lower), service workers who receive tips are often paid below that, with the expectation that the difference will be made up in tips. Therefore, the tip you leave is not an “extra bonus”, but is actually just part of their pay. The President proposed, in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, his intentions to raise the minimum wage to $9.00, in effort to address the growing income gap. However, there are opponents arguing that this could potentially discourage employers from hiring more low-skilled workers. An article in the Wall Street Journal cites that while the minimum wage was last increased in 2009, incomes across the country have declined over the past decade. When adjusted for inflation, median incomes saw a 7% decrease between 2000 and 2010, according to census data.

On PolicyMap we have data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), regarding the jobs and wages paid to employees in the food service industry (including bars/drinking establishments). We’ve included a map of average wages, showing the highest rate in most major cities – though these places notably, also have the highest costs of living. So, take a look at the map, take care of your waiters and waitresses, and please, enjoy your evening out (or in). Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!