North Carolina needs to create jobs that pay workers enough to afford the basics for themselves and their families so that everyone can prosper in our state. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s minimum wage has long lagged behind what it actually takes to get by and work has lost its promise of prosperity.

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 the same as the nation’s—$7.25 an hour. But 29 other states have raised their wage above the national floor, including conservative states like Nebraska, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Missouri. North Carolina has the opportunity to join this movement.

  • According to the Living Income Standard—a market-based assessment of what it takes to make ends meet—a family with one adult and one child needs to earn $33,700 per year (16.20/hr) in order to afford the basics.
  • At the current North Carolina minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a full-time minimum-wage worker earns approximately $15,080 per year. This is approximately $1,000 less than the federal poverty level for 2016 for a family of one adult and one child, and more than $18,000 less than what it truly takes to make ends meet according to the LIS.
  • An estimated 1.3 million workers in NC would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $12/hr, including 750,000 women.
  • Raising the minimum wage helps the economy save jobs by boosting consumer spending, reducing employee turnover, and increasing business sales.

Experts
Allan Freyer
Ana Pardo