Rhode Island is the latest state to consider increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers. According to the Associated Press, the currently hourly minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.89, and it hasn't increased in 20 years. Representative Aaron Regunberg has introduced a bill to raise the hourly rate to $4.50 by 2016 and eventually to $9 by 2019, which is the same as the state's regular minimum wage. Regunberg tells the AP, "We know from evidence across the country that we can do this in a way that helps workers and doesn't hurt businesses."
A growing number of states are exploring raising their tipped minimum wages. Seven states have already increased their hourly rates, while seven more are in the process of doing so. Michigan, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maryland are "also likely" to introduce a bill to increase tipped minimum wages to equal the regular minimum wage.
Typically, those who worked in tipped positions, like servers and bartenders, are paid an hourly rate that is typically lower than state and federal minimum wages. A new report from the Restaurant Opportunity Center shows that tipped restaurant workers used food stamps at "double the rate of the rest of the US workforce" and are three times more likely to live in poverty.