“If you take care of your employees, they'll take care of your business.”
— Erik Lars Meyer, Mystery Brewing Company, Hillsborough, NC

Every day in Orange County, North Carolina, a growing number of employers affirms the value of their employees by paying them a living wage. A living wage is the minimum amount that an individual must earn to afford basic necessities without government assistance.

Living wage certified employers in Orange County voluntarily pay wages that are substantially higher than North Carolina’s minimum wage of $7.25.

Orange County Living Wage certifies employers who pay the 2018 living wage of $13.70, or $12.20 with employer-provided health insurance. Our certified employer roster includes restaurants, hair salons, automotive shops, breweries, nonprofits, municipal and county governments, churches, plumbers, and more.

Consumers, residents, and employers can shape their local economy from the ground up. Support living wages by eating, donating, shopping, and spending your money with certified living wage employers in Orange County and throughout North Carolina.

Follow Orange County Living Wage on social media for the latest employer and wage news.

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Living Wages Work

Orange County Living Wage is a voluntary non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in August 2015.  Our continuing focus is to promote a living wage in Orange County, North Carolina.  Through our employer certification program we certify Orange County employers that pay their employees a living wage.  The certification is voluntary on the part of employers.

Our goals are to:

  • Reward and recognize employers based in Orange County who pay their workers a living wage
  • Provide employers with incentives to pay a living wage
  • Connect consumers to employers that provide a living wage & encourage them to become customers, patients, clients of those businesses and organizations. 

The Orange County Living Wage project promotes a more just and robust economy in Orange County.  We are modeled after the successful North Carolina project Just Economics, based in Asheville, NC. that has certified more than 400 employers, the most in the USA.

Orange County Living Wage works to advocate for and assist employers as we work together with them to create a more just and sustainable local economy that works for all.  We welcome participation in our work from all members of the community.


 Charles Traitor, a worker-owner and board member at Weaver Street Market, shares why paying a living wage benefits the employees of the co-op as well as the bottom line of the business.  Find more videos of living wage-certified Orange County employers here.



A living wage pulls working families out of poverty. Nearly 40% of workers in Orange County earn less than a living wage. As a result, a large portion of county residents are, in fact, working poor. With salaries at or slightly above the minimum wage, each day the working poor in our county are forced to make difficult choices such as buying food or paying rent, filling a prescription or the gas tank.  If these workers earned a living wage rather than the legal minimum of $7.25/hour, many would be lifted out of poverty.


A living wage is good for the bottom line. Turnover falls when employers offer a living wage, and workers who stay tend to be more educated and skilled, says Dr. William Lester, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor who specializes in minimum and living wage research.  Since first paying a living wage, CEOs of Costco, QuikTrip and other employers report a drop in payroll costs due to lower absenteeism and turnover.  Many living wage employers also note better morale, attendance, customer relations, and productivity.  Moreover, Dr. Zeynep Ton of MIT’s Sloan School of Management reports that research in the retail sector shows that for every $1 increase in payroll, a store can achieve a $4 or more increase in monthly sales.


Boosting pay boosts business and the local economy. The states that have raised their minimum wage are adding jobs at a much faster pace than those that did not.  And low-wage workers tend to spend nearly every dollar they earn for basic goods and services, giving a shot-in-the-arm to the local economy.  In fact, every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers adds $1.21 to the economy.

Orange County Living Wage, Asheville's Just Economics and Durham’s Living Wage project all actively promote a living wage in their communities.  Contact us at info@orangecountylivingwage.org for help setting up a similar organization in your area.


     Steering Committee Officers

Susan Romaine, Chair

Kimberly Brewer, Vice Chair

Mike Andrews, Treasurer

Susan Attermeier, Secretary

Additional members

Steve Jenks

Mark Marcoplos

John Barrow

Victoria Freeman

Chris Lathrop


Orange County Living Wage     Post Office Box 1502     Carrboro, NC 27510