Wake County Commissioners voted yesterday to raise the pay floor for county employees to $13.50 per-hour.
Commissioner Matt Calabria co-sponsored the resolution for a living wage. He says pay for county employees hasn't kept up with the cost of living.
"When your employees can make ends meet, you see lower turnover and absenteeism rates and higher productivity and morale overall," Calabria says.
Allan Freyer advocates for workers' rights at the North Carolina Justice Center, and he supports this move.
State law prohibits counties from requiring pay increases of private businesses, but Freyer says higher public wages encourages private companies to be competitive.
"We need to make sure that public sector jobs pay enough so that private sector employers have to keep up so that they're able to keep their own employees. So this is good for everyone."
Freyer says counties can also reserve local incentives for businesses that pay a living wage. Ultimately, he says, it improves local economies.
"Raising wages is actually fiscally responsible, and it's one of the best ways to make sure that governments have the adequate tax base that they need in order to provide the basic services that we all need, like trash, like roads, like schools."
The Justice Center will release a report on municipal living wages Thursday.