What is a living wage in Wake, Durham, Orange NC counties?
According to a NC Budget & Tax Center reportwith median worker earnings below the living wage statewide.
The NC Budget & Tax Center calculated the Living income level for all counties in North Carolina by looking at eight household necessities: food, shelter, childcare, health care, transportation, taxes, debt repayment, and miscellaneous expenses.
This is the living income level for the five most expensive counties in nc to meet the basic needs of a four-person household, according to the report:
Orange County: $84,120
Chatham County: $82,120
Wake County: $81,850
County Durham: $81,510
County of Mecklenburg: $79,490
And that amount covers non-negotiable necessities, insufficient to contribute to what would provide real economic stability, according to the report’s authors, such as buying a home, saving for retirement, paying school fees and covering unexpected bills.
“I sometimes call what we produce a ‘barely vital level of income,'” said Patrick McHughresearch director at the NC Budget & Tax Center and one of the authors of the report.
“And a lot of the time you’re looking at trade-offs when it comes to spending,” McHugh said. “Our report breaks down monthly costs – housing, transportation and childcare are major expenses. …As low- and middle-income people are pushed out of job centers to find more affordable housing, you’re going to be spending more on gas to get back to work in metropolitan areas across the state. And if you find cheaper daycare further afield, your transportation costs suddenly increase because you spend more time on the road and wear out your vehicle more.
“It’s hard to assign a dollar amount to ‘here’s how much you need to earn to be financially stable,’ because it’s a constant sliding scale, and there’s no getting around it.”
For the full report, visit ncbudget.org.
Here’s how much you need to earn in Raleigh, Wake to make a living
▪ Each adult in a two-parent, two-child household in Wake County must earn $19.75 per hour to meet the living income standard, says the NC Budget & Tax Center’s Wake County Snapshot.
▪ Single parent with one child must win $29.75 per hour to meet this standard.
This amount considers only immediate needs, breaking down an estimate of how much these households would spend on basic expenses (food, shelter, childcare, etc.) per month. To save money for a child’s tuition or to save money for a down payment on a house, the hourly wage should go up, McHugh said.
“A single-parent, one-child household in Wake needs $5,150 a month — we’d say over $5,000 to make ends meet,” he said. “That means you would need $15,000 or $20,000 in the bank if there’s a surprise layoff, or if you need to reduce your medical debt. This can give you an idea of the liquid savings you would need to deal with a financial shock.
Visit ncbudget.org/lis and filter on “Wake” to find the living income level for 2022 for four household types in Wake County.
Here’s how much you need to earn in Chapel Hill, Orange to make a living
Each adult in a two-parent, two-child household in Orange County must earn $20.25 per hour to meet the living income standard, the NC Budget & Tax Center’s Orange County snapshot shows.
Single parent with one child must win $30.75 per hour to meet this standard.
Visit ncbudget.org/lis and filter on “Orange” to find the living income level for 2022 for four types of households in Orange County.
Here’s how much you need to earn in Durham to make a living
Each adult in a two-parent, two-child household in County Durham must earn $19.50 per hour to meet the living income standard, according to the NC Budget & Tax Center’s Durham County Snapshot.
Single parent with one child must win $29.75 per hour to meet this standard.
Visit ncbudget.org/lis and filter on “Durham” to find the living income level for 2022 for four household types in County Durham.
You Can’t Live on NC Minimum Wage, Economists Say
steven allenan economics professor at NC State University’s Poole College of Management, isn’t surprised by the five most expensive counties in the NC Budget & Tax Center report, though he was surprised to see Chatham in second place, he said.
“Suppose you are a single parent with two children, compared to a single adult with no children, compared to a 19-year-old still living at home. Minimum wage tries to address all of these issues at once and does a terrible job,” he said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.”
A August report from the NC Budget & Tax Center reports that two parents earning a median working wage still lack more than $10,000 a year to support three or more children in most North Carolina counties.
“It’s not just people working for minimum wage who are struggling, but it’s all the way down to the average income distribution for workers. And that’s still more than $10,000 below what a basic income looks like,” McHugh said.
Allen points the MIT Living Wage Calculator to determine how much North Carolinas need to earn to earn a living wage in different parts of the state.
The report takes into account unique situations — such as having a single-earner household with no children versus a two-earner household with three children — to determine appropriate incomes for earning a living.
The calculation also breaks down necessary expenses — such as food, housing, childcare and taxes — by the number of working adults and children in a household.
For example, a single adult with no children must earn $18.36 an hour to earn a living in Raleigh, according to the MIT calculator. And a single adult with three children in Raleigh must earn $61.47 an hour to meet that standard.
Find the report (for each of North Carolina’s counties and major metropolitan areas) at livingwage.mit.edu.
This story was originally published September 13, 2022 2:35 p.m.