Special Report

10 Best Cities for Waiters

5. Bellingham, WA
Annual mean wage: $27,130
Waiter wage exceeds national average: 29.9%
Waiter jobs per 1,000 jobs: 22.7 (69th highest)

Waiters in Bellingham earned more than $27,000 in 2013, roughly 30% more than waiters nationwide, despite area households earning less than the rest of the nation. The relative higher earnings among waiters may be the result of Washington’s state law requiring that tipped employees be paid at least the minimum wage. At $10.75 an hour, it is the highest minimum wage in the country.

4. Spokane, WA

Annual mean wage: $27,340
Waiter wage exceeds national average: 30.9%
Waiter jobs per 1,000 jobs: 12.4 (28th lowest)

While few in number — only 12 out of every 1,000 jobs in Spokane are waiters — waiters in the area benefit from consistent tippers, as more than 60% of patrons tipped when it was expected in 2013. Spokane residents may decide to visit restaurants more often, and increase waiters’ tipped income, as prices are generally less expensive than in the rest of the country.

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3. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA
Annual mean wage: $28,070
Waiter wage exceeds national average: 34.4%
Waiter jobs per 1,000 jobs: 18.9 (168th highest)

The 33,000 waiters in the Boston metro area benefit from the region’s high median household income, which was more than $20,000 above the national benchmark in 2013. And while waiters earned only 41.5% of the average income in Boston, the typical waiter made 34% more than waiters nationwide.

2. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
Annual mean wage: $29,160
Waiter wage exceeds national average: 39.7%
Waiter jobs per 1,000 jobs: 17.3 (158th lowest)

Waiters in Burlington earned $29,160 last year, the second highest amount in the country. Relative to other workers in the area, waiters earned nearly 59% of the average wage, and out-earned waiters across the country by nearly 40%.

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1. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
Annual mean wage: $29,410
Waiter wage exceeds national average: 40.9%
Waiter jobs per 1,000 jobs: 15.0 (79th lowest)

Waiters in Seattle earned an annualized wage of nearly $30,000 in 2013, the highest amount in the country, 40% more than their counterparts nationwide. Like in many of the states represented by this list, Washington tippers are not overly generous. In 2013, the average tip in Washington was 15.9%. Instead, waiters benefit from the high volume of tips — more than 60% — and high median incomes, which were roughly $68,000 in Seattle in 2013.

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