The State of Working North Carolina was released this week, and the numbers reemphasize that North Carolina’s working families have experienced declines in financial stability and economic opportunity over the last decade. One take away from this grim story is that North Carolina needs not only jobs, but good jobs. As a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research highlights, however, good jobs are in short supply.
Good jobs pay a living wage. Roughly 646,000 workers in North Carolina are supporting themselves, and often their families, on the minimum wage, or $7.25 per hour. The proposed federal increase of the minimum wage to $9.80 per hour could bring this annual wage (for a full-time, year round worker) to $20,384. While this annual wage continues to be approximately half of what it actually takes for the typical North Carolina family of three to afford basic expenses, it would provide the state’s lowest earners with a much needed boost.
In addition, good jobs provide adequate work supports. The CEPR report rightly focuses on health insurance and retirement plans. Yet paid leave is also crucial for workers’ job stability. All workers need to be able to rely on pay and job protections when long or short-term illness strikes.
Creating and maintaining jobs that pay a living wage and providing supports that ensure job stability puts us all on the right path toward shared economic prosperity and creates much-needed economic growth for North Carolina.
And as we have written this week, policy solutions that support workers and communities - including keeping workers connected to the labor market, choosing policy options that responsibly address the jobs crisis, and transforming disadvantaged areas into communities of opportunity – will strengthen the economic recovery for all.