Just Economics of WNC announces 2022 living wage rate

Press release from Just Economics of WNC:

Asheville, NC – January 4th 2022 – Local advocacy organization, Just Economics has released a new Living Wage Rate for 2022 and an updated formula for calculating the Living Wage rate. With the cost of living continuing to rise rapidly in Buncombe County, Just Economics’ board and staff spent several months reevaluating the formula for calculating the Living Wage Rate for Buncombe County for the first time since 2011.

The 2022 Buncombe County living wage rate was calculated at $17.70/hour for full and part time employees. The organization has removed the wage subtraction for employers offering  health insurance, though employers offering health benefits will be identified in the organization’s on-line directory.

The Buncombe County Living Wage Rate is recalculated at the end of each year using Federal Fair Market Rent (FMR) data as a base. The new formula considers what a full time employee would need to make hourly to afford a one bedroom apartment at 33 ⅓ percent of their monthly income taking into consideration that many landlords require proof that tenant’s earn at least 3 times the rent to qualify for a lease.

“The US Federal minimum wage hasn’t increased in more than 12 years, and it’s widely understood that $7.25 isn’t a wage floor that anyone can live on,” says Vicki Meath, Just Economics’ Executive Director. “The living wage rate is intended to be a better starting place for employers interested in keeping pace with wages, as the cost of living continues to increase.”

Just Economics also entered into a new partnership with Living Wage for US, an national living wage organization that launched in November. Living Wage for US is using the Just Economics’ 2021 Living Wage Rate for their tier I certification putting employers on a path to the tier II living wage certification based on standards for a family in the commuter zone.

Just Economics’ Living Wage Certification program serves all of Western NC. Employers in the surrounding rural counties can apply for certification using the rural living wage rate. Both employers in Buncombe Counties and those in rural counties can apply for certification through separate application found on the Just Economics’ website, JustEconomicsWNC.org.

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