“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.
In North Carolina, where the $7.25 federal minimum wage has not risen since 2009, employers voluntarily pay living wages because they understand the income people need to eat and pay rent. Living wage certified employers in Orange County pay living wages because they want to recruit the best employees and retain a skilled workforce. Businesses pay living wages because they know that more people making living wages spend more money in local economies and help to support more businesses.
Orange County Living Wage is a volunteer-driven 501(c)3 nonprofit working to promote a living wage in Orange County, North Carolina. Through our employer certification program, we recognize 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. Since 2015, we have certified more than 160 employers.
Living Wages Benefit Workers
A living wage pulls working families out of poverty. With salaries at or even a few dollars above minimum wage, each day the working poor in Orange 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 hourly, many would be lifted out of poverty.
Living Wages Benefit Employers
A living wage helps attract more skilled employees – and keeps them on the job.
Business owners know firsthand the time and effort required to fully train new hires. Frequent turnover is a huge drain on resources. 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.
“I want to pay people enough that they will stay,” says Ari Sanders, General Manager at Mystery Brewing Company's Public House. “The easiest way to keep employees is to let them know they’ve got some money coming.”
Many living wage employers also note better morale, attendance, customer relations, and productivity.
Living Wages Work in the Local Community
Lifting pay boosts business and the local economy. The states that have raised their minimum wage are adding jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. And low-wage workers tend to spend nearly every dollar they earn for goods and services closer to home. Every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers has the potential to add even more to the regional economy. A conservative "multiplier" suggests that each dollar earned in Orange County adds at least $1.21, directly spent in our county.
Follow Orange County Living Wage on social media for the latest employer and wage news.
Orange County Living Wage's 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.
Consumers and residents 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.
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.
Orange County Living Wage, Asheville's Just Economics, and Durham Living Wage Project all actively promote a living wage in their communities. Contact OCLW at firstname.lastname@example.org for help setting up a similar organization in your area.