Best and worst places in the US to work for tips
The amount of tip money you earn when you work in the food or beverage industry depends on more than the type of place where you work (think dive bar versus swanky “it” club of the moment), your competency or skill on the job, or even your impressive people skills. Your nightly or weekly take-home in tips depends in large part on the city and state where you work and live.
To determine just how much location matters to food and beverage workers, Payscale recently released a report that breaks down which US cities offer the best (and worst) earning potential for waiters and waitresses, bartenders, and chefs and cooks. By measuring things like median hourly tip amounts, median base pay, typical total hourly income, typical tip percentages, and percentage of income that comes only from tips for each of these job titles, the report presents all of the “ingredients” employees need to measure where in the US they might be able to make the most money.
According to the report, Boston, Miami, and San Francisco offer the highest median tip amounts for waiters and waitresses at around $13. Wait staff who work in Boston and Miami also report that their tip money makes up a very high percentage of their overall income, at 68.4% and 72.6% respectively. San Francisco employees report a slightly lower percentage at 55%.
Detroit, Seattle, and Minneapolis report the lowest median tip amounts for waiters and waitresses at around $7. Although it’s interesting to note here that the median base pay for both Seattle ($9.60) and Minneapolis ($14.40) is considerably higher than other major cities, including San Francisco, Miami, and Boston (the states where you can earn the highest median tip amounts), possibly compensating for their lower than average tip amounts.
A high cost of living notwithstanding, New York City, where the median hourly tip amount is $9.50 and the total hourly income is $15.30, ranked on the middle to lower end for most of these income metrics for wait staff.
As for bartenders, they fair best in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, but register the lowest tips and median base pay in New York City.
Not surprising, the study notes, chefs and cooks do not earn as much in tips as wait staff or bartenders, but they do tend to have a higher median base pay. Boston tops the list of highest hourly base pay for chefs, while Kansas City, MO ranks the lowest.
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