Democrats in the state legislature joined labor leaders to launch an effort to raise North Carolina's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, drawing a clear battle line for the November mid-term elections.
North Carolina currently has the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That amounts to $290 for a 40-hour workweek, or $15,080 for someone who works 40 hours every week out of a year. The federal poverty level is $12,140 for individuals.
In pushing for an increase in the minimum wage, democratic Senator Floyd McKissick of Durham referred to recent efforts to attract high-tech companies.
"Firms like Apple, Amazon, bringing in salaries that'll pay six figures and above," he said. "We cannot forget, we cannot forsake the third of our population that's here every day working their jobs making a living but barely surviving."
Democratic senators introduced a bill last year that would raise the minimum wage, but it has been stuck in committee. Republicans have historically rejected raising the minimum wage and hold a veto-proof majority.