Local governments are leading the way on wages, despite determined opposition from state legislators and state constitutional limits that hamstring such efforts.
As in a number of other southern states, the North Carolina Constitution sharply limits the authority of local governments to raise wages for private sector workers in their communities. These limitations were extended to include the private businesses performing local government contracts by legislation passed in 2013 and then confirmed by this year’s notorious HB2. As a result, city and county governments are prohibited from requiring any private business (including contractors) to engage in specific employment practices, including providing paid sick days or paying living wages.
Yet municipal and county governments still have important opportunities to take positive action to promote quality jobs—especially by raising the wages of their own public employees. And many of them are doing precisely that.