Overwhelming majority of affected employees are older than 20, work full-time

RALEIGH (April 27, 2017) — Almost two million North Carolinian workers would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute. State-specific data (including for North Carolina) is available here.

The report focuses on increasing the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2024, but the positive economic impact is comparable to effects of raising North Carolina’s minimum wage to the same level.

Specifically, the report finds that raising the wage will have the following effects on North Carolina’s economy:

  • Millions of workers helped. 1.7 million North Carolina workers will benefit from the raise, including those who currently earn the minimum wage and everyone who earns between $7.25 and the new threshold.
  • Most of the workers are full-time employees over the age of 20, rather than part-time or high school students looking for a first job. Two-thirds of those benefitting work more than 35 hours a week and more than 92 percent are older than 20.
  • Raising the wage will benefit middle-class families as well as low-income workers. More than 60 percent of benefitting households have family incomes between the federal poverty level for a family of four ($24,300) and $75,000 a year, while only 15 percent earn less than $15,000 per year.
  • Raises are concentrated in the healthcare, retail, and food and drink services industries. The industries with the largest share of workers who benefit are food services (17 percent of all workers benefitting), retail trade (16 percent), and healthcare (10 percent).
  • People of color will benefit the most. More than half of all Hispanic workers will benefit, and almost 45 percent of African-American workers will benefit. This will ensure these historically disadvantaged populations are able to participate more fully in our state’s economy.

Although this report does not include information on the overall impact of raising the minimum wage on North Carolina’s economy, previous studies have found increasing the wage floor has on balance a positive effect on local businesses and state economic performance, and does not contribute to job losses.

“Almost two million North Carolina workers will benefit from raising the minimum wage,” said Allan Freyer, Director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center. “And when families can afford the basics—putting food on the table, gas in the car, and a roof over their heads—their whole community thrives. Higher wages mean more business sales, bigger business profits, and a growing local economy. Our elected officials in Congress and in the General Assembly should act now to raise the minimum wage.”

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