In a world of hourly salaries that don’t begin to cover the cost of living, the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro are holding themselves to a higher standard—meaning higher wages for their workers.

Carrboro and Chapel Hill recently raised wages to recertify as living wage employers, and 337 workers will share a total annual wage increase of $500,000 as a result.

The two towns were recertified by Orange County Living Wage (OCLW), a local nonprofit organization that currently holds employers in Orange County to a 2022 living wage standard of $15.85 an hour for workers. 

For Carrboro, recertification means a total wage increase of $450,000 for 226 employees, and Chapel Hill’s constitutes $50,000 for 111 employees. Both towns were originally certified as living wage employers in 2016. Certification lasts for two years before businesses can reapply.

“As economic inequality worsens, we need an even stronger commitment to broadly shared economic prosperity,” said Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils in a press release. “I’m proud to say that, by recertifying as a living wage employer, the Town of Carrboro is continuing to act according to the community’s values, set an example for other employers, and most importantly, invest in the well-being of all our employees.” 

In the same press release, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said that recertification “demonstrates that we value and appreciate the jobs that our dedicated workers do for our community.”

Carrboro and Chapel Hill aren’t the only living wage employers in our area. The Town of Hillsborough, Orange County Government, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are also certified, as are a number of private businesses, service providers, and nonprofits.

OCLW adjusts the living wage annually to keep up with rising costs of rent. With an increased cost of living every year, we’re lucky that our local towns value an increased living wage as well.

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