Living Wage

A picture of a wallet with cash in it.
401(k) 2013 / Flickr

North Carolinians are having more trouble attaining the American Dream, according to a new report from Durham-based research center MDC and the John M. Belk Endowment.

Image of Meredith Sawyer, early childhood educator in Greensboro who earns less than a living wage
Duke Center for Documentary Studies

An estimated 20 percent of North Carolinians earn less than a "living wage."

Advocates refer to that term as the household income needed to cover housing, food, child care, healthcare, transportation, taxes and other necessities.

A new interactive video exhibit from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University tells the stories of these workers and explores the options for new policies that might help them. 

Charles Latham uses music to look at stability through employment and his own struggles in life.
Pat McGuire

Musician Charles Latham has seen many friends and family struggle in the current economic situation. Friends lost jobs and his parents lost their house in the housing crisis.

Latham combined these experiences with his own struggle making ends meet out of low-paying jobs to create music about the importance of the living wage. Finding stability through employment is a theme throughout Latham's music, as well as a goal he hopes his local community can achieve.

A picture of a folded wad of cash.
401kcalculator.org / Flickr

Wake County Commissioners voted yesterday to raise the pay floor for county employees to $13.50 per-hour.

An image of an event from Working American in Greensboro
Carolyn Smith / Working America

Labor Day was established as a national holiday in 1894 to celebrate the achievements of American workers. What does labor in the state and nation look like today?   In 2013, North Carolina had 130,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or less, comprising 5.8 percent of all hourly-paid workers.

monutsdonuts.com

The Federal government mandates that all states must pay their employees at least $7.25 per hour.  Many states exceed the mandated rate and increase their minimum wages, but North Carolina has set its minimum wage right at the federally mandated minimum of $7.25 per hour.

However, an even lower minimum wage applies to what are called "tipped workers."  If you receive tips while you are working, your employer can legally pay you as little as $2.13 per hour, on the logic that the difference will be made up in tips.

DPS Custodians
Leoneda Inge

Dozens of Durham Public Schools custodial workers rallied outside school district offices Friday, hoping they’ll get their back wages soon. Workers carried signs reading, "DPS, Clean This Up!"

More than 140 custodians at big schools like Jordan and Hillside High Schools are still due two paychecks that were supposed to come before the holidays.

Durham Public Schools contracts out custodial services.  But when sub-contractor, Integrity Facilities Management filed for bankruptcy, workers were not paid.  

A picture of an empty wallet.
401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

Chief Financial Officers across the country say that hiking the federal minimum wage could lead to mass layoffs. Rebecca Martinez reports they're not willing to move far from the $7.25-per-hour standard.

Duke University and CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey wrapped up Friday, after 74 consecutive quarters. It's world's longest-running survey of senior finance executives. They say few companies would act if the minimum wage were raised to $8.75 an hour.

Just Economics is trying to get a living wage for working class in Western North Carolina.
http://justeconomicswnc.org/

  The Asheville nonprofit Just Economics has been pushing for local businesses to pay a living wage.