Just Economics adjusted its livable wage for Asheville to $13 in 2017, while many in our city’s booming service and hospitality industry are scrounging by at $7.25 an hour. Thanks to a “pre-emption law,” passed in 2013 by a majority white, Republican-controlled General Assembly, raising the minimum wage on a municipal level across the state of North Carolina is barred. This means even in Asheville, where the cost of living is significantly higher than other cities of North Carolina, as a municipality, we are unable to pass legislation for the people in our community to earn what they need to survive.
Let’s talk about what this means. In a small city with newly constructed high-rise hotels and condominiums flooding in to house the tourists, and city walkers flowing in and out of boutiques and breweries, our own community cannot survive. Asheville citizens are being pushed out of the city for lack of being able to compete with outside money and Airbnb properties. [It’s] a city touting itself as progressive, yet what is progressive about poverty wages and reliance on a tourist economy?
If Asheville wants to be serious about being progressive, about showing up for the members of our community and not just those passing through for the weekend, we need to push Raleigh to overturn the pre-emption law. We need to push for a living wage in Asheville and for all of North Carolina.
— Trisha Kretzer