Press release from Just Economics:
July 24 marks 10 years since the federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act 231-199 on Thursday (7/18/19), which would bring the federal minimum wage up to $15/hr by 2025, though the measure has little chance to be taken up in the Senate. While North Carolina’s minimum wage has remained the same as the federal, an insufficient $7.25, 29 other states and the District of Columbia have a higher minimum wage than the federal. Raising Wages NC is the statewide campaign to raise North Carolina’s minimum wage and locally, Just Economics convenes the coalition of supporters in Western North Carolina.
While there has been no change to the minimum wage, there have been significant increases to the cost of living in the last decade. Most drastically in Asheville, local housing costs are soaring. Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom in Asheville has increased 35% over the last 10 years. A full-time minimum wage worker would spend almost 70% percent of their income on housing for a one-bedroom apartment; housing is considered affordable at 30 percent of the worker’s income.
“It is impossible for today’s minimum wage workers to survive on a wage that was created in 2009. Their struggles are our struggles. Low wage workers’ financial insecurities have a ripple effect that extends not only to family but to the community as well” says Carmen Ybarra, Community Organizer at Just Economics.
North Carolina has the eighth-highest percentage of children living in poverty in the nation. Raising the minimum wage would change the lives of the half-million children that are currently experiencing the ramifications of their families’ financial insecurities. Currently, those living on minimum wage cannot afford basic life necessities. People who don’t have enough money, don’t spend money. Raising the minimum wage would provide some financial security and buying power which would translate to more sales and bigger profits to local businesses.
Just Economics, as part of the statewide coalition Raising Wages NC and together with WNC Workers Solidarity Alliance, are holding an “Unhappy Birthday Party” for the federal minimum wage from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on July 24 at Pack Square.
What: Unhappy 10th Birthday Party for the Minimum Wage
Who: Hosted by Just Economics, the Western Coalition of Raising Wages NC, and the WNC Workers Solidarity Alliance
When: July 24, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Pack Square (Near the fountain behind the Vance Monument)