Friday, May 26, 2006

Push To Increase North Carolina's Minimum Wage Continues

The House gave its initial approval to legislation on Thursday that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 per hour. House Bill 2174, which is sponsored by Reps. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), Jim Harrell (D-Surry), and Earl Jones (D-Guilford), was approved by a vote of 68 to 39. During Thursday’s debate on the bill, supporters also expressed the need to help small businesses across North Carolina grow and prosper, which could include providing a tax credit for small businesses that provide health insurance to employees. Final passage of the minimum wage increase is expected on Tuesday.

Over half the states in the nation, including North Carolina, abide by the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, which was last increased in 1997. Workers making $5.15 an hour earn about $800 a month or $10,700 a year. An extra dollar an hour would add up to an extra $2,000 a year.

About 100,000 workers in North Carolina — 3 percent of the workforce — make less than $6 an hour. Minimum wage earners bring in about $893 each month. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have now raised the minimum wage above the federal level. Recently, Arkansas raised its minimum wage more than a dollar to $6.25 an hour.

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