A longtime friend of mine is what I like to call a "no-matter-what tipper." For those unfamiliar with that term, a no-matter-what tipper will leave an excessive tip for a waiter, waitress, bartender, or any other type of server no matter how good or absolutely awful the service may have been.

It all blew up one night when I saw his wife turn to him and say "30 percent? 30 percent? We were treated like garbage, the table was dirty, the food and drinks were nearly inedible, and I'm fairly certain that the bartender spit in our drinks, but you leave a 30 percent tip?!

My (divorced shortly afterward) friend's response? "That's why I didn't leave 35 percent!"

Portrait of waiter in black apron upset with little tips at restaurant
Getty Images

The Midwest May Get Very High Marks For Our Hospitality, But According To A New Survey, We're Really Dropping The Ball When It Comes To How We Tip

The survey/study, done by USA Today, comes from an online survey of 5,000 Americans, 10 from every state, taken between September 11th and the 25th:

We’ve gathered data from all 50 states to investigate how tipping varies. Generally speaking, the best tippers tend to be located on either the west or east coasts, while those in the middle of the country tend to tip less.

There are some exceptions to the rule of "the coasts tip more while the middle of the country tips less," most notably the fact that Missouri residents are #2 on the list of the best tipping states. Who takes the number-one spot? That would be California.

Some of USA Today's key findings:

  • The average tip percentage in the U.S. is 17.94%.
  • California residents tip the most, averaging 22.69%.
  • By age, Millennials tend to be the best tippers in the country, averaging 18.18% at tip time.
  • Unsurprisingly, the percentage of a tip is likely to vary with the tipper’s income level.
Mid adult couple arguing while having dinner at the restaurant.
Of course it's a crappy tip! Do I look like a Californian? (Getty Images)

Californians Tip The Highest Percentage At 22.69 Percent, And The National Average For A Tip Is 17.94 Percent---So If We're In Last Place Here In Illinois, What's Our Average?

According to the USA Today piece, Illinois residents tip an average of 14.22 percent, which plants us firmly at the bottom of all states. If you're a server, you might want to consider a move to one of these top 5 tipping states:

  1. California: 22.69%
  2. Missouri: 22.05%
  3. Florida: 21.68%
  4. Arizona: 20.66%
  5. Rhode Island: 20.50%

Conversely, you'll probably want to steer clear of the bottom 5:

  1. Illinois: 14.22%
  2. Mississippi: 14.98%
  3. South Carolina: 15.13%
  4. New Mexico: 15.32%
  5. Tennessee: 15.40%

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