Our Latest Report: The Third Shift

Our new report, The Third Shift: Child Care Needs and Access for Working Mothers in Restaurants, details the unique obstacles for mothers who work in restaurants. The restaurant industry employs over ten million workers, making it one of the largest segments of the U.S. economy. More than five million restaurant workers are women, two million are mothers, and one million are single mothers with children under the age of 18.

The Third Shift reveals that:

● Child care is not affordable for mothers working in restaurants. Mothers reported spending an average of 35% of their weekly wages on child care;
● Over 90% of mothers surveyed did not receive paid sick days to care for themselves or their sick children;
● Eighty-five percent of those surveyed reported that they were unaware of available subsidies or of employer-sponsored programs. Of the 15% that knew assistance was available for child care, less than half received help from the program;
● Almost half of the mothers surveyed reported having an unpredictable schedule; forty percent said their schedule changed on a weekly basis, and 5% reported that it changed daily;
● Barriers to reliable child care have led to unemployment and underemployment for mothers in the restaurant industry, resulting in being passed over or not considered for promotions and hiring. A third of mothers surveyed said that child care impaired their ability to work desirable shifts, and almost half suffered negative consequences at work because of arriving late or leaving early due to childcare.

infographic by design action collective

The National Restaurant Association has lobbied to keep the tipped minimum wage at the abysmally low rate of $2.13 per hour, where it’s been stuck since 1991.

Combine earning a sub-minimum wage with the erratic nature of tips, and you get servers experiencing poverty at three times the rate of the rest of the US workforce and using food stamps at twice the rate of the rest of the US workforce. The restaurant industry isn’t just a temporary gig for teens, it’ one of the fastest growing sectors our economy; in fact, it’s the only sector that continues to turn a profit despite the recession. The majority of servers are adult women, 2 million of them are mothers.

Fortunately, most folks support increasing the tipped minimum wage through policies like the proposed Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour over the next 3 years and the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to 70% of the regular minimum wage. Although there are a few states where the tipped minimum wage is already higher than $2.13/hour, the Fair Minimum Wage Act would increase the tipped minimum wage everywhere by raising the federal standard to $7.07 (for example, if the full minimum wage were $10.10) and require that the tipped minimum wage be linked to inflation.

Read the full report here.

Support the Fair Minimum Wage Act here