Democrats in the North Carolina House are fighting to raise the state’s minimum wage, which has been stagnant at $7.25 an hour for more than 10 years. Lawmakers argue that wages have not kept up with the cost of living: full-time minimum wage workers in North Carolina earn $15,600 annually, while the federal poverty level for a family of two is $16,910. North Carolina Rep. Susan C. Fisher (D- Buncombe) is the sponsor of one of two Democrat-led house bills which aim to raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next five years.
Fisher's HB 366 also makes provisions to raise wages for tipped employees who currently earn $2.13, which has been the federal standard since 1991. Fisher joins host Frank Stasio to talk about HB 366 and how it would impact the large number of service industry workers in her district who are paid at or below minimum wage. Senior Political Analyst Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation joins the conversation to share his belief that nearly doubling the minimum wage will force companies to automate and ship jobs elsewhere and will also push some underskilled workers out of the job market completely. Second-generation fast food worker Earl Bradley also joins the conversation to share his experience as a minimum wage worker. His mother spent 20 years with the company and retired as a store manager. Bradley has been with Wendy’s for more than seven years.