The Ripple Effect Rising Food Costs Are Having On Restaurant Workers

It's no secret that inflation is hitting consumers hard across all sectors. For many people, even paying for necessities like groceries and gas is becoming increasingly difficult. To put it into perspective, it was reported that the rate of inflation is the highest it's been in over 40 years, per CNBC. In terms of food, even common items like eggs have increased dramatically in price. While there are a variety of reasons for the current inflation crisis, organizations like the World Economic Forum point the finger at supply chain issues spurred by COVID-19, the ensuing consumer demand for goods, and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Though people all across the world are dealing with a difficult economic situation, it may be surprising to learn that Americans are still dining out. In fact, Americans may be eating out more than before the pandemic. Yahoo Finance explains how a post-COVID lockdown world has spurred more people to seek out restaurant experiences, especially novel ones. On the surface this probably sounds like a great thing for the economy, but it may not be totally positive. It turns out there's an unexpected consequence of inflation that is ruining the restaurant experience for some of its most essential players. Food service workers are getting the short end of the stick for a reason that can only be described as ... rude.

How waitstaff are being shortchanged

Since inflation hit, restaurant workers have been coming forward with stories of diners tipping poorly or not at all. Daniel Westwood, a Las Vegas bartender who earns $12 per hour and depends on tips, explained that not even previous recessions caused as many bad tippers as he's experiencing now. It might sound mind-boggling to think a diner would choose to eat out and not tip their server, but Westwood claims that it's becoming the norm, and he cites inflation and indifference as two key factors. In a world where people can finally dine out again, some restaurant workers feel that diners value their personal restaurant experience over their server's take home pay.

Poor tipping during inflation isn't a series of isolated incidents, either. A recent survey showed that Americans are tipping even less than they did before COVID-19, per The Hill. Though there was certainly a pandemic-era trend of tipping more money to restaurant workers in 2020 and even 2021, it seems that 2022 has seen that era of generosity end.

While it may be that some restaurant-goers are tipping less out of selfishness, other experts say shadow inflation is a reason for gratuity "ghosters." Shadow inflation is the effects of supply chain issues and labor shortages on restaurants. These effects include dining issues like dirty facilities, poor food quality, and missing ingredients. While rarely the fault of short-staffed restaurants, it's possible that disappointed diners are taking out their frustrations on their servers.