Letter: Time for NC to raise the minimum wage

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As a former worker on minimum wage, I wince as I remember the stress and anxiety that my friends and co-workers experienced as they fretted over paying for the basics on a daily basis and suffered through the pain of simply doing without. I witnessed people eating chips for dinner because it was all they could afford or playing exhausting games with credit cards by transferring years-old balances to new cards to get a break on interest rates.

No one should ever have to avoid doctors’ visits even when they were in great need because they couldn’t afford it and had no insurance, like my co-workers, or work through fatigue most days because their multiple jobs didn’t permit them a full night’s sleep.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services federal poverty guidelines state that a two-person household needs $17,420 a year to make ends meet. It is distressing to me that, with North Carolina’s current minimum wage of $7.25, a full-time minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, makes just $15,080 a year before taxes, $2,000 below these guidelines.

As is typical, inflation continues to go up at a steady pace while wages stay put. North Carolina’s minimum wage hasn’t budged in nearly 12 years. The pandemic has only exacerbated these issues, causing so many workers who were living on the edge to fall off.

Some advocate for waiting for the federal government to act on raising the minimum wage. But why wait when workers need help now?! We can do what 29 other states, including conservative ones like Nebraska, Arkansas, South Dakota and Missouri, have done and raise our state minimum wage to a fairer and more just $15 per hour. We just need the political will to do it.

Last [month], the Raising Wages NC coalition and groups like Just Economics held a press conference about the statewide bill to raise the minimum wage. I fully support this long overdue bill, and you should, too. I urge our lawmakers to treat this issue with the urgency it deserves and do right by North Carolina’s workers.

— Susan Hills


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.