By Chris Fitzsimon
One of the biggest problems with the so-called Carolina Comeback frequently touted by Governor Pat McCrory and state legislative leaders is that it is leaving thousands of North Carolina workers behind— and not just the ones who are unable to find a job and are no longer counted when the often-cited unemployment rate is calculated.
Many people lucky enough to have jobs are earning less. That is beyond dispute. Workers in the Noth Carolina have less buying power than they did before the Great Recession even though the state’s overall economic output has increased by more than 18 percent.
Much of the job growth during the recovery has been in low wage industries that pay workers the $7.25 an hour minimum wage or close to it, making it almost impossible for them to make ends meet.
The N.C. Justice reports that 80 percent of the new jobs created since 2009 don’t pay enough to cover the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care and other basic needs.
There any many things state and federal policymakers should consider in response to the problem, but one is easy to do, easy to understand, and popular with the voters.
Raise the minimum wage.
Raising it to $10 an hour would affect roughly a million workers in the state and contrary to claims by folks on the Right, most of the people who would benefit are not teen-agers or first time workers or folks who only work part-time.
More 85 percent are over 20 and more than half are full-time workers trying to provide for their families.
And there’s plenty of evidence that raising the minimum wage helps the overall economy too. States that have raised their minimum wage are doing better than states that haven’t. They have lower unemployment and higher job creation.
That makes sense when you consider the economic impact of raising the wage. In North Carolina that would mean $2 billion more in pay for workers that will end up circulating in the economy. [Read more…] Ashevilleprogresssive.com
By Chris Fitzsimon