Proposed bill would raise North Carolina minimum wage to $15/hr

There's a push to get minimum wage to $15 in North Carolina.

The proposed bill would slowly roll out wage increases over five years, finally hitting $15 by 2024, but, again, that all depends on if it is passed

The idea of a $15/hour living wage has been tossed around for a while across the country. Some states have already started implementing it and if some North Carolina lawmakers have their way, it could be next on the list.

Aaron Smole is a manager at Webb Custom Kitchen. We talked with him about the business realities of what he has to deal with, much like any other business near him in downtown Gastonia.

[Click here for more information on House Bill 366]

“You have full-timers and part timers, you have people who still live with their parents and make enough to buy gas and clothes, and you have others supporting their families,” Smole said. 

Currently, the minimum wage in North Carolina is at $7.25. The legislation would more than double that, making the average salary for a full-time employee just a little over $31,000 a year, before taxes.

Lawmakers say, with the rate of inflation, it is a necessary step, though opponents question how it would affect the businesses and growth.

"A little piece of that overhead that's going to become a bigger piece."

Smole says he sees why some are calling for an increase, but he told us in general, for any business, the more overhead, the fewer employees, and in some cases, it could affect whether someone decides to open up shop.

"There are some people who look for those $8, $9 an hour jobs and for a business with a small markup, they may not be able to afford those employees."

So, what are the chances of this passing? The bill is being brought up by democrats in Raleigh, but the state legislature is mostly Republican.

Republicans have so far given no indication of the bill's future, but it is working its way through committees right now.

House Bill 366 would increase the state's minimum wage in five phases: 

  • Effective January 1, 2020, sets the minimum wage at the higher of $8 per hour or the minimum wage set forth in 29 USC 206(a)
  • Effective January 1, 2021, sets the minimum wage at the higher of $10.35 per hour or the minimum wage set forth in 29 USC 206(a)(1).
  • Effective January 1, 2022, sets the minimum wage at the higher of $12 per hour or the minimum wage set forth in 29 USC 206(a)(1).
  • Effective January 1, 2023, sets the minimum wage at the higher of $13.50 per hour or the minimum wage set forth in 29 USC 206(a)(1).
  • Effective January 1, 2024, sets the minimum wage at the higher of $15 per hour or the minimum wage set forth in 29 USC 206(a)(1). 

The bill states that it would adjust the minimum wage "automatically each year by increases in the cost of living" and would phase out subminimum wage for tipped employees. Under North Carolina's current law, employers must pay tipped employees at least $2.13 an hour as long as each employee earns enough in tips to make up the difference. For more information on this proposed bill, click here!