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Reach Roundup: Minimum wage

Note: The following is the weekly Reach Roundup newsletter from September 6, 2018. To sign up for this newsletter, leave your information below.

Reach: Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in North Carolina is set at the federal minimum wage that was established in 2009: $7.25 an hour. Recently, the North Carolina legislature passed a $15-per-hour minimum wage increase for about 9,000 state government and university system employees. Of the 2.5 million hourly workers in North Carolina in 2016, about 91,000 made the minimum wage or less (the minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13).

This week, we heard opinions on the minimum wage from hundreds of Reach NC Voices members. Proponents of raising the minimum wage cited concerns about the inability of an individual to meet their basic needs on a $7.25 per hour income, which equates to about $15,080 a year before taxes (considering 52 40-hour work weeks). Critics of minimum wage increases cited factors that may reduce employment as firms raise prices to offset their increased costs of employees, including automation and reduced sales.

We also heard from educators who mentioned that this minimum wage increase does not apply to any public school or community college employees who make less than $15 an hour. If you didn’t share your thoughts last week, or if you want to share additional thoughts, I would love to hear from you. Just reply directly to this email.

Now for our next question of the week. Football season is upon us. High school football games are in full swing, area colleges kicked off last week (even if the UNC offense seemed to miss the memo), and NFL begins this week. This led us to wonder about your views on the safety of the game as it relates to kids across the state who might want to play, so our next question of the week is about the safety of football. Weigh in here!

What you told us about minimum wage:

Five Facts:

1st in unemployment
Buncombe County has the lowest unemployment rate in North Carolina at 3.1 percent as of July 2018.

47th best state to work
North Carolina ranks 47th for “best states to work in” according to an Oxfam report. The ranking is based on wages, worker protections, and rights to organize.

Over 7% unemployment
Scotland and Edgecombe counties have unemployment rates of 7.8 percent and 7.2 percent respectively. These are the only two counties above 7 percent.

5 million person workforce
In July 2018, the North Carolina labor force broke 5 million people.

8 straight years
North Carolina has seen eight straight years of a decrease in unemployment rates since 2009.

Our Picks:

‘They’re not paying enough.’ Charlotte employers struggle with worker shortage. | The Charlotte Observer – 9/4/2018

Jason Tebben has a big problem at his Pineville landscaping company, one that has caused him to drop a couple dozen residential clients and lose as much as $160,000 in business so far this year. He just can’t find enough qualified workers.

Keep Reading


A Fast-Food Problem: Where Have All the Teenagers Gone? | The New York Times – 5/3/2018

In an industry where cheap labor is an essential component in providing inexpensive food, a shortage of workers is changing the equation upon which fast-food places have long relied. This can be seen in rising wages, in a growth of incentives, and in the sometimes odd situations that business owners find themselves in.

Keep Reading

Question of the Week:

Travel Notes:

Here’s where our team has been this week.

– On Tuesday, Bryan Noreen visited Central Carolina Community College and Robert Kinlaw visited Richmond Community College.
– On Wednesday, Liz Bell visited Coastal Carolina Community College. 
– On Wednesday and Thursday, Analisa Sorrells and Alex Granados covered the State Board of Education meeting in Raleigh.

After visiting 8 community colleges in 8 days, EdNC’s Bryan Noreen fueled up at Stubbs & Son in Sanford — his 65th NC BBQ meal across the state. Bryan Noreen/EducationNC
Reach NC Voices Team

The Reach NC Voices team includes Nation Hahn, director of growth for EdNC; Molly Osborne, director of policy; Analisa Sorrells, chief of staff and associate director of policy; and Alli Lindenberg, engagement specialist.