MEDIA RELEASE: "Raising Wages is a Women's Issue" press conference announces new legislation to raise the minimum wage

Legislators, workers, business owners announce legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022

RALEIGH (March 8, 2017) — In recognition of International Women's Day, North Carolina lawmakers joined Raising Wages NC — a growing coalition of workers groups, advocates, businesses, and faith leaders — this morning to announce the launch of a new campaign and the introduction of legislation that raises the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour by 2020 and $15 an hour by 2022.

"Wages are a women’s issue," said Senator Angela Bryant at the event, one of several legislators sponsoring the bill. "Earning enough to make ends meet for the entire family is a women's issue. And raising the minimum wage is a women’s issue."

Advocates spoke in support of legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, an issue that is of particular importance for women and working mothers across the state. Women play a vital role in economy—they make up almost half of North Carolina’s workers and are the primary breadwinner in 4 out of 10 of our state’s families. They are also far and away the most reliant on minimum wage jobs.

  • Currently, more than two-thirds of all workers earning the minimum wage are women.
  • Almost three-quarters of a million women will directly benefit from raising the wage to $12 an hour
  • 260,000 of those benefitting are working moms, and 127,000 are single moms.
  • More than half (54 percent) are people of color.

Unfortunately, all too often these workers don’t earn enough to support their families. Recent research suggests that it takes a family of one adult one child $3,071 per month to afford the basics—food on the table, gas in the car, a roof over the heads, and health care for both of them. Yet the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour pays these women just $1,160 a month—nowhere near what it takes to make ends meet.

It's also beneficial for the state's overall economy. Economists have shown states that raised their minimum wage saw overall wages go up more than the states that did not raise their wages, and crucially, states that raised the wage did not see any more job losses. Employers see better sales, lower turn-over, and higher productivity when wages go up.

"Raising the wage will put more money in the pockets of these women and their families who need it most," said Ana Pardo of the NC Justice Center's Workers' Rights Project. "Higher wages provide businesses with bigger sales, higher profits, and more demand for hiring—a virtuous cycle that boosts our economy and helps our communities thrive."

Workers from around the state spoke about why raising the wage is a personal issue to them. Seretha Platt, an employee at Bojangles who is raising four children, said it's a struggle to help and teach her kids when all they can afford to do is sit at home.

"If it were your kids what would you do?" she said. "Think about this Fight for 15. It's important to me and it's important to the future — and that's our kids."

For more information about the campaign visit www.raisingwagesnc.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer, allan@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2151; Julia Hawes, julia@ncjustice.org, 919.863.2406.

 

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