Like local governments across North Carolina, the City of Charlotte passed its budget a few weeks ago in time for the start of a new fiscal year last Friday. Like a growing number of City leaders across the state, the City Council and Mayor approved a budget that sets the minimum pay for a city worker higher than the state and federal minimum wage standard of $7.25. That is good news for workers and their families and good news for the local economy in Charlotte: when workers earn what it takes to make ends meet they are able to spend locally on the basics and thus support their families and boost economic activity.
The new minimum pay schedule for City of Charlotte employees starts at $13.58 which is now among the highest in the state for City workers. It still, however, falls far short of what it takes to make ends meet in that City where rising housing, child care, and transportation costs are squeezing workers in public and private sector jobs. The Budget & Tax Center produces a Living Income Standard for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. For a single worker with one child, the hourly wage it takes to just break even on the basics without public assistance is at a minimum $17.16. MIT’s Cost of Living Calculator sets that figure at the higher rate of $22.06.
The move to $13.58 is thus an important step and one that should be taken by more cities across the state. But it must also be the first on a road to ensuring that workers earn what it takes to make ends meet and contribute to a thriving community. Read more