By Allan Freyer
Director, Workers' Rights Project
The How to Build an Economy that Works for All series aims to establish policy priorities and proposals that policymakers can advance and North Carolinians can support throughout the election season and the start of the legislative session in January.
North Carolina needs an economy that works for all and ensures broadly shared prosperity. That means creating jobs that pay workers enough to afford the basics for themselves and their families—enough to buy groceries, pay the rent, put gas in the car, and keep their children in day care. Unfortunately, the jobs that paid decent wages are largely vanishing, as low-wage service jobs replace the manufacturing positions that once provided generations of North Carolinians with vital pathways to the middle class. This trend has only accelerated since the end of the Great Recession.
Raising the minimum wage in North Carolina provides a critical antidote to the ongoing boom in low-wage work. The state’s current minimum wage is identical to the nation’s wage at $7.25 an hour. But our elected officials have the opportunity to join a growing list of state governments— including Arkansas, Nebraska, Alaska, South Dakota, New York, and California—that have recently acted to raise the wage floor for employers within their jurisdictions. These states have recognized that the current national minimum wage simply doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet, and that by raising their own wage floors they can help workers and boost their overall economies. Joining this movement will benefit North Carolina’s businesses, help workers, and boost the state’s overall economy.