What is a Living Wage?

A “living wage” is the minimum amount that a worker must earn to afford their basic necessities, without public or private assistance such as food stamps, section 8 housing, etc. Living wages are intended to meet the basic needs of a single individual working in Orange County, North Carolina.

The living wage for 2018 is $13.70, or $12.20 with employer-provided health insurance. 

Living wages increase because average Fair Market Rents for Durham-Chapel Hill (as determined by US HUD) generally increase every year. When a business is certified as a living wage employer, their certification is good for two years. Within those two years, a certified employer does not have to raise wages to meet OCLW’s annual living wage increases. However, some employers do raise wages each year to keep pace with the new guidelines. Every two years, when an employer applies for re-certification, they re-certify at the year’s current living wage. 

In 2017, Orange County Living Wage’s hourly wage was $13.15 ($11.65 with employer-provided health insurance). Employers certified in 2017 have a two-year certification at that wage, and will be due for re-certification in 2019.  

In 2016, the living wage was $12.75 ($11.25 with employer-provided health insurance). Employers who certified with 2016 wages have a two-year certification at that wage, and will re-certify in 2018 for the wages noted above. 

Employers who certified in 2015 will already be re-certified with 2017 wages, and the 2017 wage will apply to them until they are due for re-certification in 2019. Orange County Living Wage is delighted to report excellent rates of re-certification for our 2015 employers and 2016 employers. Nearly 90% of employers have chosen to re-certify. 

All full and part-time employees must be paid at least the living wage amount. Whether a person works 4 or 40 hours per week, they should be paid the same. A full hour’s work deserves a full hour’s wage.

All tipped, commissioned, and variable pay rate employees must be paid at least the living wage rate. Employers and employees are interviewed to verify their pay, at living wages, is consistently earned so that our certification requirements are met.

Interns, apprentices, temporary and project-based employees, minors working part time, probationary employees, and independent contractors paid via a 1099 are not included.

Orange County Living Wage works in partnership with our employers to create a more just and sustainable local economy. We welcome participation in our work from all members of our community. Please contact us at info@orangecountylivingwage.org if you would like to participate and learn more about our work. 



This 2012 video about wealth inequality is still just as relevant in 2018:

Wealth Inequality in America