- NC Policy Watch - http://www.ncpolicywatch.com -

New report: Raising public employee wages helps balance budgets and boost the economy

pv613af [1]

When public sector workers can afford the basics, cities and local governments prosper

Raising wages for municipal and county employees lets workers afford the basics, boosts the economy, and helps local governments balance their budgets, a new report finds [2]. That’s why dozens of states and local communities across the nation have recognized that the federal minimum wage simply doesn’t pay enough for families to cover their everyday needs and have acted to establish better wages by enacting living wage policies.

Municipal and county governments in North Carolina have already seized the opportunity to join this national movement and take positive action to raise wages for workers living in their communities. Local governments in Greensboro, Greenville, Asheville, Durham, and Wake County have all enacted living wage increases for their own public employees, while a dozen other municipal and county governments have wage floors well above the national minimum wage of $7.25.

Also known as “living-wage” jobs, these economy-boosting jobs allow workers to earn enough to afford the basics—to put food on the table, pay the rent, put gas in the car, and cover childcare expenses. When that happens, workers help boost sales and profits for local businesses and, in turn, the entire economy, the report finds.

“Despite recent state legislation that limits local government authority, cities and counties still have the opportunity to raise the wages of their own public employees,” said Allan Freyer, director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center and co-author of the report. “At a time when most of the jobs we’re creating don’t pay workers enough to afford the basics, this strategy can play an important role in combatting wage stagnation by increasing the supply of jobs that pay a living wage and boost the economy.”

The report also finds that:

“Raising wages for public employees is good for local budgets and the economy,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “The choice to cut state taxes has held down public sector and private sector wages alike. Local government workers have seen their wages fall to nearly $2,800 less per year than before the Great Recession: this has held back their spending locally, limiting the economy’s ability to reach its full potential.”

Click here to read “The power of wage policies: How raising public sector wages can promote living incomes and boost North Carolina’s economy.” [3]

wage1 [4]

wage2 [5]