The Budget and Tax Center has just released its annual State of Working North Carolina report, an in-depth analysis of North Carolina’s economy. The overarching theme of this year’s report, entitled “The Future of Work and Ensuring Job Quality in North Carolina,” is what it takes to create a quality job. BTC’s basic requirements include:

A living wage
North Carolina’s current minimum wage is $7.25, the same as the federal wage. That’s less than 50 percent of the state median wage, about half of what you would need to afford a 2-bedroom apartment, and way less than half of what you would need in a single-parent family to make ends meet, according to the Budget and Tax Center’s Living Income Calculation. 

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Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10/hour would still fall below some of these measures, but it would go a long way towards supporting low-income families in their efforts to earn economic security.

Paid sick days and family leave
Roughly 39 percent of North Carolina’s private sector workers lack paid sick days, and that share climbs as you move down the income ladder. And about 85 percent of workers in the Southeast don’t have access to paid family and medical leave, meaning they have to lose out on income if they have to take time off for a long-term injury or illness, or to care for an ill or injured family member. The lack of paid leave hits the food service and personal care industries particularly hard, as it does communities of color. Millions of working North Carolinians are forced to choose between their or their family member’s health and a steady income.  

Retirement security
According to the Elder Economic Security Index, a typical single retired North Carolinian in good health will see living expenses around $20,964 a year. A retired couple’s annual expenses can reach up to $31,000. But in North Carolina, decades of wage stagnation have eroded low- and middle-income workers’ ability to fund their retirements, especially when it comes to savings. In fact, 10 percent of 65+ North Carolinians currently live below the poverty line.

“The on-going debate about how many jobs have been created in North Carolina over the past year misses an important assessment of how the economy affects workers, their families and the broader community: how good are the jobs that have been created?”

The Budget and Tax Center also list affordable health insurance, collective bargaining rights, and skill development and career mobility as requirements for a quality job. Click here for their full analysis.