The minimum wage in NC goes up
I almost forgot to mention this bit of news from last week. There’s a long way to go to a living wage, but when the feds can’t do the right thing, something has to be done — even in a Red state. Legislators finally came on board, due to hard work by a lot of folks, including North Carolinians for Fair Wages.
Gov. Mike Easley Thursday signed into law a bill that will increase the state’s minimum wage by $1.
House Bill 2174 raises the hourly minimum pay rate from $5.15 to $6.15 per hour and also ties North Carolina’s minimum wage to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
If the federal minimum wage is raised, employees in North Carolina will receive whichever wage is higher. The federal minimum wage is currently $5.15 an hour and has not been raised in nine years.
At a news conference Thursday, Easley said the bill is just one step in changing the state’s economy.
“We are not trying to build a low-road economy based on low wages and low skill. Those days are gone,” Easley said.
Tennessee’s legislature recently voted down a similar proposal. FS’s Chris Kromm noted back in June that the regions that benefit most from NC’s boost in the minimum wage are also the most politically conservative; proving this was a win for those still just scraping by in this economy, who aren’t served by the business interest lobby:
The NC Justice Center has released a brief (pdf) on who would benefit most from the dollar hike in North Carolina — and it turns out workers in the mountains and coast, as opposed to the urban areas in the center of the state, stand the most to gain:
Eastern and western North Carolina would benefit the most from a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage. About 5% of workers in eastern North Carolina and 4% of workers in the far western part of the state would see a bump up in wages, compared to about 3% of workers in most of the piedmont.
It’s sad, but not surprising, to find out this information, to put it in perspective:
All but six states have minimum wage laws separate from Federal law. Eighteen of those states set a higher minimum wage than the Federal standard. Tennessee is one of the six that does not have its own minimum wage law. Four of the other five are also in the South (Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana). Arkansas has a state minimum wage law, but currently sets it the same as the federal standard.
Hat tip, R. Neal, Facing South