Editor-in-Chief and A&E Editor
There was a unanimous vote by the Board of Commissioners on Nov. 16 to increase permanent Wake County employees’ pay to $13.50. Previously, some were making as little as $11.08 an hour. But with this new living wage, all employees will earn at least $28,080 annually. For some employees, this will be a pay rise of one or three thousand dollars. “We’re pleased that the number of employees who will benefit from the living wage is relatively low, because it shows that our market analysis is working,” says Wake County human resources director Angela Crawford. “We regularly research what the fair market rate is for each one of our positions, and the living wage data proves our efforts are effective.”
The Universal Living Wage Organization’s calculation was used by county officials to decide what the amount would be for the Raleigh area. The numbers are based off what is required for someone who works full time to afford a one bedroom apartment and meet their basic needs with things like food or transportation. The new minimum wage, which could fluctuate with the yearly budget and changes to the local housing market, will cost Wake County $93,000 a year. The county has a $1.14 billion annual budget, and officials believe it should be able to absorb the extra cost. “Creating higher paying jobs will allow those employees to spend more money within our economy,” explains Commissioner Sig Hutchinson, “supporting small businesses and their workers.”
The board hopes this new living wage, going into effect Dec. 1, will lessen employee turnover and improve performances. “If you invest in your people,” says Commissioner Matt Calabria, “they will invest in you.”
Addressing financial hardships is a major priority, especially considering 120,000 Wake residents live in poverty. “This county has embarked on a comprehensive plan to fight poverty and address what it means to be poor in this county," says Commissioner Matt Calabria. "If we are working to address poverty in Wake County, the very least we can do is make sure we aren’t responsible for it as employers.”
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