Randy Billings’ recent article about tipped workers expressing concern about an increase in the minimum wage (“Tipped employees in Portland say wage hike could hurt,” July 24) failed to help readers deepen their understanding of the issue.

His story reported a national average hourly income for tipped restaurant workers of $10.25, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Billings should have cited that same agency’s statistics for our local region as well (available online at http://tinyurl.com/qzcpr8d).

Waiters and waitresses earn, on average, just $9.80 per hour in the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford area. That translates to an annual income of only $20,390 for a full-time worker.

As the minimum-wage ordinance recently passed by the City Council notes, a full-time worker needs to earn $19.46 per hour to afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Portland.

The Maine Restaurant Association and the owners of downtown restaurants have been consistently misleading the City Council and the public by arguing that most or all tipped restaurant workers in Portland earn at least the $20 per hour that would allow them to live in the city where they work.

There is a clear contradiction between the position of the restaurant industry and the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Billings should have used his platform as a journalist to help readers understand that contradiction by giving a voice to the tipped restaurant workers who earn average and below-average wages.

Instead, by limiting his interviewing to just restaurants in the downtown area, his article only amplified the voice of those who have already been heard.

Tom Walsh

Portland