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The most generous tippers

Women are more likely to tip than men for most services, the survey found. Only 46% of men tip their hairstylist compared to 60% of women. At a sit-down restaurant, 70% of women tip compared to 60% of men.

Midwesterners and Northeasterners are the best tippers overall. At sit-down restaurants, 77% of Midwesterners say they always tip, compared to 67% in the Northeast, 61% in the South and 61% in the West.

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Tips make up for low wages

Many service employees rely on gratuities to make a decent living. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires a minimum wage for tipped employees of only $2.13 an hour, although most states have higher minimum wages. California requires employers to pay tipped employees at least $15.50 an hour and Washington sets the minimum at $15.74, but those are at the high end. Arkansas’ minimum is a super low $2.63.

Two-in-five, or 41% of American adults, feel that instead of relying on tips, businesses should pay their employees a decent wage, according to the Bankrate survey.

Cost of living plays a role

As people grapple with the increased cost of living, tipping is a generally declining courtesy, according to the survey. The percentage of people who tipped their server in a sit-down restaurant, for example, fell from 75% in 2021 to 65% in 2023. Hairdressers and barbers saw less cash in the tip jar in that same period, with tip frequency dropping from 63% to 53%.

Most everyone felt the pain of climbing costs during the pandemic. According to the consumer price index for cities across the U.S., the price of all items went up 3% on average from June 2022 to June 2023, including food, shelter costs and utilities. Full-service meals went up an average of 6.2% and haircuts and other personal care services went up 5%.

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Consumers annoyed by prompts to tip more

Almost one-in-three American adults said they thought tipping had gotten out of control and around the same number were annoyed by pre-entered tipping prompts, according to the Bankrate survey. About 18% responded that the suggested tip amounts made them tip less or not at all.

Inflation and general economic unease seem to be making Americans stingier with their tipping habits, yet we’re confronted with more invitations to tip than ever,” Bankrate Senior Industry Analyst Ted Rossman said. “It’s a fascinating issue with few clear answers. There is one apparent certainty, though: Tipping doesn’t seem likely to leave American society anytime soon.”

Certain services get the most tips

When people do open their wallets wider, it’s usually for hairdressers, waitstaff and food delivery people. Around 65% of respondents said they always tip waitstaff at a sit-down restaurant, while 53% said their hairdressers or barbers are sure to get a tip and 50% always tip food delivery people. The least likely to get tipped are plumbers, electricians and other repair workers and furniture and appliance delivery workers.

Only 44% of survey respondents said they tip at least 20% when dining at a sit-down restaurant.

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Kerry Gold Freelance Contributor

Kerry Gold is a long-time journalist. Based in Vancouver, she's written a weekly real estate and urban issues column for the Globe and Mail for the past 15 years. She is the author and co-author of several books, and several investigative pieces for the Walrus and other publications. Prior to her freelance career, she was an entertainment reporter and music critic for the Vancouver Sun.

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