Today, millions of working people struggle to cover the cost of housing, food, health care, childcare and other basic necessities for themselves and their families. A worker who is paid the minimum wage of $7.25/hour, or any wage below a living wage, cannot possibly afford basic necessities without assistance. This creates problems not only for workers, but also for businesses and the local economy.
The living wage movement is an important initiative that can bring improved conditions for working people, businesses, and our local economy.
A living wage can pull 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 at least a living wage of $13.70 / hour rather than the legal minimum of $7.25 / hour, many would be lifted out of poverty.
Living wages benefit working families and can reverse the trend of the declining real value of NC's minimum wage. Pay scales that start at living wages create a minimum income threshold that more accurately accounts for the cost of living today.
Living wages benefit businesses and the local economy.
Studies have shown that paying a living wage leads to increased worker morale, worker health, and quality of service. Paying a living wage also lowers absenteeism, turnover, and recruiting and training costs.
Raising wages is affordable: employers generally absorb the costs of wage increases through higher worker productivity and lowered training and administrative costs.
Living wages enable working people to become self-sufficient and rely less on social services.
Living wages stimulate the economy through increased consumer spending and a regional / local "multiplier" effect. A multiplier shows that for every additional dollar earned, workers actually spend more than that dollar within their communities and close to home.