North Carolina government employees saw a wage increase two years ago while the hourly rate for private-sector workers remains stagnant for 2020.
Workers in 21 other states benefited from recent increases in their states’ minimum wages. The hike is related to inflation and other factors and is not a significant raise in some states. New Mexico saw the largest increase at $1.50 per hour.
The minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25. Minimum-wage workers putting in 40 hours per week earn just under $14,000 annually, before taxes. The current minimum wage is about what it should be, says state Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Warsaw).
North Carolina state Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Warsaw)
“Your first job is not supposed to be your permanent job,” Dixon said. “For businesses to stay in business and to employ people, they have to have the wages for those lower-level jobs that they can afford and still make a profit.”
Many Republican officials say a free-market system – competition between privately owned businesses dictating prices on goods and services – should be what determines the minimum wage. Several companies with a presence in northern North Carolina have increased the starting rate for their employees, including Amazon, Wells Fargo, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Cone Health, Hugh Chapman Hospital and Novant Health Inc.
The widening urban and rural economic gap in North Carolina complicates the debate about a higher minimum wage, says Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo.
“Workers have been remaining in these low-paying positions for longer periods of time because there has been so little growth in mid-skilled positions, particularly outside the major metro areas,” Vitner said.
Dixon says that raising the minimum wage would have a negative impact on the private sector.
“As the minimum wage goes up, industry and business is more inclined to do away with labor,” Dixon said. “Look at WalMart with the self-checkout lanes; McDonald’s and what they’re trying to do. They’re doing things to cut out their labor.”