North Carolina’s low wages make Raleigh unaffordable
North Carolina may be considered the best state in which to do business — thanks in large part to its ability to create generous incentives for businesses — but its workforce rankings tend to be at the bottom of the list. peloton.
What is happening: Since NC was recognized last week by CNBC for its inviting business climate, some labor activists have responded by pointing to a 2021 analysis from OxFam America that called the state the worst state for working people.
The low wages of the state have made its biggest cities, Charlotte and Raleigh, some of the least affordable places for workers earning minimum wage, which hasn’t budged from $7.25 an hour in 13 years.
- A 2022 analysis by Move.org places both cities among the worst for minimum wage workers, noting that their housing costs have risen significantly in recent years.
- “And our legislature will not allow local governments to lift [minimum] wages in their municipalities,” said MaryBe McMillan, president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, a labor group.
What they say : The contrast of the two rankings should come as no surprise, John Quinterno, director of South by North Strategies, an economic research consultancy, told Axios, calling them “two sides of the same coin”.
- “These company rankings view labor as a cost to be minimized, so policy regimes that promote lower wages, fewer benefits, and fewer workplace regulators are considered positive.”
Quinterno added that what emerged from the CNBC report was the focus on luring corporations to the state with incentives.
- Over the past year, the state has pledged billions of dollars in incentives for land-based extensions from Apple, VinFast, Toyota and Boom Supersonic.
State of play: While the state legislature has been divided for years on labor policy issues, both sides have generally become proponents of using incentives in recent years, repeatedly increasing the total amount of money that the state can pay companies.
- In 2017, the state created a new class of its Employment Development Capital Grants for “Transformative Projects,” which gave the state more leeway to provide incentives.
- The latest state budget and a new regulatory bill made hundreds of millions more dollars available to VinFast and Toyota.
And after: McMillan said she expects workers to continue to pressure the state legislature and employers for better benefits and higher wages.
- Already, she says, the $15 minimum wage movements have had some impact.
- And with rising inflation, she expects more workers to push for better benefits, like what happened at Starbucks and Amazon.