$7.25 an hour won’t buy squat. That’s why 29 states and Washington, D.C. have raised their minimum wage rates above the federal level. But in North Carolina, where the social service safety net is already frayed and unions are non-existent, we’re still asking people to subsist on low pay.

Based on the Living Wage Certification Program in Asheville, the Peoples Alliance Fund has launched a similar program in Durham. More than 20 businesses and nonprofits have been certified by the PAF, guaranteeing that their employees earn wages that either equal or exceed a living wage.

PAF calculated its living wage rate by tying it to the city’s and county’s. That equals $10.83 an hour for employees with employer-provided health insurance, and $12.33 for workers who have to buy health insurance on their own. These rates include waitstaff and other tipped employees, who, after tips, must earn this rate. (See chart, facing page.)

Durham-based employers, or companies with an office in Durham, can apply to become certified by the PAF at www.durhamlivingwage.org.

While half of workers ages 16-24 earn minimum wage, this is not just an adolescent problem: 20 percent of workers ages 25–34 and 11 percent from 35–44 are stuck in jobs that pay at the poverty level.

Below, we’ve provided a chart showing the difference a few dollars makes in helping a household stay financially sound. We based these expenses on a household of a single parent and one child under age 5.

Durham-based employers and companies with an office in Durham certified by the PAF

Acanthus Construction
Avant Group
Bean Traders Durham
Bountiful Backyards
Bull City Pet Sitters
Caktus Group
Center Studio Architecture
Cocoa Cinnamon
Ellen Cassilty Architect
Environs Landscaping
El Futuro
Fullsteam Brewery
Habitat for Humanity Durham
KONTEK Systems
Merge Records
Meals on Wheels
Moms Rising NC
Net Friends
NicholsonPham PLLC
N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development
One World Market
The Parlour
Reinvestment Partners
Rise Biscuits and Donuts at Southpoint
SciMed Solutions
Vaguely Reminiscent

The INDY has filed its paperwork, and is awaiting certification.

This article appeared in print with the headline “For a few dollars more.”