Special Report

Best Cities for Waiters and Waitresses

Source: Thinkstock

3. Salinas, CA
> Avg. annual wage: $34,360
> Avg. hourly wage: $16.52
> Wage exceeds national avg.: 49.3%
> Waitstaff jobs per 1K: 21.7

The restaurant industry in the Salinas, California metro area is more lucrative than that of nearly any other U.S. city. The average establishment in the accommodation and food services industry in Salinas brings in $74,709 per employee annually, far more revenue than the $58,974 national average. Waiters and waitresses in Salinas are paid just 25% less on average than the typical worker in the area, the smallest such earnings gap of any city. At $16.52 an hour, the average waitperson in Salinas makes $34,360 a year, the third most of any metro area.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA
> Avg. annual wage: $34,700
> Avg. hourly wage: $16.68
> Wage exceeds national avg.: 50.7%
> Waitstaff jobs per 1K: 17.0

Many waiters and waitresses work for minimum wage, which in Washington is the highest of any state. Businesses in Washington are required to pay employees a minimum of $11.00 an hour, compared to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. In Mount Vernon, a town within the popular tourist destination of Skagit Valley, waiters and waitresses earn $34,700 a year on average, far more than the national figure. Goods and services in Mount Vernon cost less on average than they do in most cities where waiters and waitresses earn the largest salaries. Adjusted for the city’s lower cost of living, the real wage of Mount Vernon wait staff is the highest of any metro area.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI
> Avg. annual wage: $36,430
> Avg. hourly wage: $17.52
> Wage exceeds national avg.: 58.3%
> Waitstaff jobs per 1K: 40.8

Nowhere is the restaurant industry a larger part of the economy than in the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metro area. Accommodation and food services account for 21.6% of the Kahului area GDP, and the average accommodation and food services establishment earns $115,705 per employee annually, the highest and second highest such figures of any metro area nationwide. Food service workers benefit from the thriving restaurant economy. The average waitperson earns $36,430 annually, roughly $13,400 more than the U.S. average for all waiters and waitresses nationwide.