MEDIA RELEASE: Legislators, workers, business owners urge raising minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022

 $15 for NC: Campaign to raise the minimum wage comes to the General Assembly for Lobby Day

RALEIGH (May 22, 2018) – Today at the legislature the Raising Wages NC coalition — a growing campaign of legislators, workers, advocates, businesses, and faith leaders — urged passage of legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour by 2020 and $15 an hour by 2022. Raising the minimum wage is good for businesses, good for workers, and good for the economy, advocates, workers, and lawmakers said.

“It’s time to raise the minimum wage,” said Senator Floyd McKissick at today’s press conference. “It won’t kill jobs; it will create jobs by putting more money in the pockets of families who need it most. 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.”

The Raising Wages proposal calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 in $1.55 yearly jumps and allowing it to increase every year according to rising costs of living. An estimated 1.3 million people, one-third of the state’s total workforce, would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Economists have shown that states that raised their minimum wage saw overall wages go up more than the states that did not raise their wages and, crucially, those states that raised the wage did NOT see any more job losses.

Raising the minimum wage would be especially beneficial for women and working mothers: more than half of those benefitting are women (726,000), 260,000 are working mothers, and 127,000 are single mothers. More than half of those benefiting (54 percent) are people of color. Because most low-wage workers are women, increasing the minimum wage would also help close the gender wage gap.

“Women play a vital role in our 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,” said Representative Susan Fisher. “They are also far and away the most reliant on minimum wage jobs. But all too often they just don’t earn enough make ends and support their families.”

Raising the minimum wage is also good for business. Sarah Parker, who owns the Durham Catering Company, said her business will benefit when everyone in North Carolina earns better wages because she’ll have more customers.

“As folks have enough money to afford the basics, they’ll have the money to buy my products, which will boost my sales, my profits, and possibly allow me to hire more staff,” Parker said.

The ripple effect of raising the wage floor would give a boost to the many hundreds of thousands of working people making just above the minimum wage, advocates said. Earl Bradley, of Durham, knows raising the wage floor is crucial to making ends meet.

“I have worked at Wendy's for 7 1/2 years – raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will mean a lot to me, my family, and my community because how can we live off $7.25?”

Jeremiah Jaynes of Waynesville, NC, is currently unemployed but in the past has only had low-wage jobs as a cook and construction laborer. He is a father and only made $7.25-$10.50 an hour during his working years.
 
“The American dream is not in reach for me,” Jaynes said. “I’ve lived in my county my whole life, my family has been here for seven generations, and I’m at risk of not being able to afford to live here. I’m fighting for a higher minimum wage to provide housing and food for my daughter. She deserves that.”

The Raising Wages NC campaign launched in 2017 and has been endorsed by 29 organizations and more than 1,000 individuals, including workers and business owners. For more information about the campaign visit www.raisingwagesnc.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Allan Freyer, allan@ncjustice.org, 703-598-1488; Jeremy Sprinkle, NC State AFL-CIO, 336-255-2711.

Projects: