Cold War raged last time tipped workers got a raise

Cold War raged last time tipped workers got a raise

Your Jan. 3 issue reported on the 10-cent per hour increase in Ohio’s minimum wage effective Jan. 1. Brief mention also was made of the minimum wage for Ohio’s tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, being raised 5 cents per hour to $3.98.

There has been a lot of healthy discussion recently in both the print and electronic media about raising the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. As a footnote to that debate, your readers may not be aware that the federal minimum wage for tipped workers is a paltry $2.13 per hour in 19 — mostly southern and southwestern — states and has not been increased since 1991. That’s the year that is generally considered to represent the end of the Cold War.

A closer look at the demographics shows that of the approximately 6 million tipped workers in the U.S.: 2 in 3 are women; half are 30 years or older; 1 in 3 are parents; and 1 in 6 of those rely on free lunches to feed their children.

When one includes tips, the median wage nationally is about $8 per hour but varies greatly from state to state. The poverty rate among tipped workers is three times that for the U.S. workforce as a whole.

As we debate the pros and cons of raising the federal minimum wage, let us not ignore the plight of this underpaid and underrepresented group of fellow citizens. And please remember to tip generously the next time you dine at a restaurant.

Stephen Hanzely, Poland