Dollar banknotes and coins,  money tips.

Americans Tip Restaurant Workers Less Than They Did Pre-Pandemic

Remember when tipping restaurant employees — even for takeout! — at the beginning of the pandemic was seen as a moral obligation to support essential workers? That practice didn't last long, according to a new survey on tipping habits.

Americans are less likely to always tip their server at a sit-down restaurant than they were pre-pandemic, despite many pledging to become better tippers to support service industry workers in 2020 and 2021. Only 73% of survey respondents said they "always tip" servers, down from 77% in a 2019 survey. Four percent of respondents said they never tip.

When the results are broken down by age, baby boomers are the most likely to always tip, at 87%, while 52% of Gen Zers, 60% of Millennials, and 77% of Gen Xers reported that they always leave gratuity.

Similarly, tipping for other food-related jobs is down compared with before the pandemic. In 2022, 57% survey respondents said they always tip food delivery people compared with 63% in 2019, when the service was much less widespread. Tipping coffee shop baristas is down 2 percentage points since 2019, with only 22% reporting that they always tip.

The reason for the decline in tipping is probably twofold. Rampant inflation is hitting everyone in their wallets, making tipping seem like an extraneous expense — despite the fact that restaurant servers rely on tips to even make minimum wage in most states. Plus, the labor shortage has left many restaurants understaffed, inevitably leaving some customers feeling slighted for service that may not be the same as it was pre-pandemic.

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