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Local Servers Say the Economy is Hurting Their Tips

Local waiters and waitresses say the drop in the economy has left them with little or no tip. KSMU's Kristian Kriner reports.

With the price of gas and food on the rise, people are looking for ways to cut back on spending.

Local waitress Kathryn Vaggalis says one way people are cutting back is leaving a smaller tip.

Vaggalis has been a waitress for over two years and has watched tips go from the standard 15 percent to 10 percent or less.

She says this summer, tips have significantly gone down.

"Because gas prices have gone up, menu prices have gone up and people are budgeting more and more and more. And tips are going lower and lower and lower. They're becoming 10 percent or less," Vaggalis said.

Vaggalis and other servers in Missouri make a little over three dollars an hour and rely on tips to make the standard minimum wage, which is $6.65.

Reed Olsen is a professor of economics at Missouri State University.

He says there isn't any data to prove that the economy has caused a decrease in gratuities, but it is a possibility.

"As far as economic principles go, it is possible as the price rises that people could respond by reducing the tips," Olsen said.

Vaggalis says if you are eating out, there are ways to save money for a tip.

"People can save so much money by simply doing a few things. You can split entrées. Food portions sizes are so big nowadays that you can save, well if you think about it up to 50 percent just by sharing an entrée or you could drink water instead of soda," Vaggalis said.

Vaggalis also suggests not ordering an appetizer or dessert to save money for the server.

For KSMU News, I'm Kristian Kriner.