Has America Reached the 'Tipping Point?' Service Industry Says Maybe

man leaving a tip - tippingWith tight budgets and thinning wallets during the height of the recession, practically everyone looked for ways to cut corners. But some industries felt the pullback more than others. Allmenus.com, an online menu and food delivery site, tracked the tips that delivery people received from food orders through the website, and its recent survey revealed that delivery people were stiffed on tips during the recession.

According to Allmenus.com, the average pre-recession tip on a pizza delivery was approximately 11%, but during the worst of the recession, that percentage dropped to below 9%.

The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration teamed up with Payscale, Inc., a database of employee salaries, to evaluate the tip situation among hotel and restaurant workers. Many workers in the service industry were laid off or downsized to part-time when patronage began to slow, leaving many servers struggling to make ends meet. Payscale's survey concluded that on average, salaries (tips included) were reduced by more than 10% during the recession, and some workers even experienced a 50% decline in their tips, which for most workers in this industry comprises the bulk of their pay.Although the good news for the service industry is that Americans are starting to get back into their normal tipping habits, and in some cases, they are even tipping more than was customary before the recession. Maybe due to a guilty conscious for skimping on tips to their favorite servers and deliverymen?

The latest data from AllMenus.com indicates a return to pre-recession tipping levels for food delivery, which began in March 2010 and has remained steady ever since. Tipping at restaurants has also started to recover. A Zagat San Francisco report tells an even rosier story of tipping in the food industry. Bay Area servers reported that their average tips are up 18.6%, an 0.2% increase from pre-recession tip averages.

With many Americans still out of work, it hardly feels like the country has recovered from the recession. Have you returned to your pre-recession spending and tipping habits?

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